On yer bike ... Scotland could host 2017 Tour de France
EDINBURGH could host the Tour de France's Grand Depart in 2017 as organisers step up their bid to bring cycling's biggest event to the United Kingdom.
EventScotland, combined with the Scottish Government, British Cycling and UK Sport hope to host the opening Tour prologue - a short time-trial stage - in the Scottish capital before further stages south through the Scottish Borders and England, with an "overall aim of keeping the Tour in the UK for as long as possible".
London hosted the Grand Depart in 2007 and the Tour, in general, starts outside of France every other year. In 2010 the race began in Rotterdam and the 2012 edition is set to start in Liege. Yorkshire is bidding to host the 2016 Grand Depart.
It is understood Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation were impressed by Edinburgh on a visit and are considering the proposal, which will now be planned in more detail.
With Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the Rugby World Cup taking place in England a year later and 2016 being an Olympic year, 2017 is considered an ideal opportunity for the UK to host the Tour, which attracts two million people to the opening stage.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "To bring such a fantastic event to Scotland would be a huge coup, but we have a strong track record and I know that the country has a huge amount to offer ASO and the cyclists taking part."
British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake added: "The last visit to Britain by the Tour de France was a great success for all involved and is still held in very high regard by those riders that took part.
"British Cycling has embraced the opportunity to work with Scotland, helping them to fulfil their ambition of bringing the Grand Depart to Edinburgh.
"British Cycling has identified bringing the Tour de France to Great Britain as a key part of its Major Event Strategy and we will do all we can to work with proactive partners to encourage ASO to choose Great Britain as a host venue and to encourage them to keep their amazing race on our shores for as many stages as possible."