Edinburgh loses Sky Ride as council aims to win Tour de France Grand Départ (+ video)

Scottish capital aims to use Pearl Izumi Tour Series as stepping stone to renewed bid to host cycling's biggest race

by Simon_MacMichael   February 20, 2014  

Edinburgh Nocturne - David Millar with Castle backdrop .jpg

There will be no Sky Ride in the Scottish capital this year after Edinburgh City Council declined to offer funding for the event, with the money instead going towards a bid to host a round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series – and ultimately an attempt to secure the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

In 2012,  Yorkshire beat off competition from Barcelona and a bid originally put forward by Edinburgh to secure the right to host this year’s start of cycling’s biggest race, with the Tour de France starting in Leeds on 5 July.

According to the Edinburgh Evening News, however, the switching of funding from Sky Ride to the Pearl Izumi Tour Series is part of a project aimed at bringing the French Grand Tour to the city.

Edinburgh’s first Sky Ride, in September 2012, saw 10,000 cyclists join Sir Chris Hoy a month after his Olympic success in London to ride through the city’s Holyrood Park.

The council put £20,000 towards that event, and says that it made its funding on the understanding that it was a one-off.

Last year saw Edinburgh’s second Sky Ride, organised at short notice with organisers Sky and British Cycling meeting the cost, but according to the Edinburgh Evening News, that event plus Sky Ride Local rides during the year attracted just 350 riders.

The council’s festivals champion Steve Cardownie said: “Given the many cycling successes during the London Olympics, summer 2012 was the perfect time to host the first Sky Ride here in Edinburgh and we were delighted that Sir Chris Hoy was able to join the many thousands of participants for a traffic-free ride through Holyrood Park.

“While originally intended as one-off event, we were more than happy to host a second Sky Ride last year and would, if approached, consider doing so again.”

Joel Lavery, British Cycling’s national partnerships manager, confirmed to the newspaper that there would be no Sky Ride in Edinburgh this year.

“We ask all our partners to provide financial and other support,” he said. “Edinburgh City Council were not in a position to do this so unfortunately there will be no Sky Ride in Edinburgh this year.

“We understand that they have difficult decisions to make so we are always happy to open up discussions again should circumstances change.”

Instead, Edinburgh City Council is said to have earmarked £50,000 of funding to try and bring the Pearl Izumi Tour Series to the city as the start of a campaign that it hopes will lead to it staging the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

While details of venues of this year’s competition are yet to be announced, Edinburgh will reportedly host a round on the evening of Thursday 29 May.

The Edinburgh Evening News says that the circuit will take in Grassmarket, Victoria Street, George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row – a tough, up and down course with tight bends and some cobbles, identical to that used by the Edinburgh Nocturne in 2009 and 2010.

Councillor Cardownie added: “The council continues to promote participation in cycling, having committed seven per cent of this year’s transport budget to cycling investment and agreeing to support the forthcoming Pearl Izumi Tour Series event.”

The original plans for Edinburgh’s failed 2014 Grand Départ bid envisaged a Prologue in the city centre, home to two Unesco World Heritage sites in the shape of the Old Town and the New Town, followed by a road stage.

By the time the final bid, which had the backing of British Cycling, had been submitted, the race was due to start with a road stage heading south from Edinburgh, with two subsequent stages taking the race south via northern England into Wales, then towards the Channel Ports.

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I am sure the Tour would love to expand to new countries; maybe in summer 2016. But then again they might think why come back to the UK just two years after Yorkshire. If only there was some way of voting to convince ASO. Thinking

Between the S and the LOW

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1161 posts]
20th February 2014 - 20:56

like this
Like (12)

Might not be the UK then... Wave

posted by WDG [12 posts]
20th February 2014 - 21:16

like this
Like (14)

Maybe glasgow could do skyride again, it was great for youngsters to be involved.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [438 posts]
20th February 2014 - 21:35

like this
Like (8)

I hope they never get it.

posted by farrell [1247 posts]
20th February 2014 - 21:51

like this
Like (15)

Why would you hope Edinburgh never get it? Actually who are "they" anyway?

Scotland has some of the best places to cycle in the UK. Only one of the stages of the pearl izumi series is in Scotland, a bit like the Tour of Britain. There is always great support for these events however.
I watched Cav win the dumfries stage of the TOB & again along with a great crowd cheer on the time trial and road national championships in Glasgow, and hopefully when the commonwealth games come this year even more Scottish cycle fans will get to experience the atmosphere and excitement of a major cycling event.
Building on this - why not? I'd love to have the tour!

I'm really excited about the possibility of going to Ireland for the Giro this year, and of course to Yorkshire for the Tour.

Why would anyone who has any interest in cycling not want the chance to see these events practically on their doorstep?

WE would all benefit from the tour coming to Edinburgh!

posted by paulmcmillan [78 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:44

like this
Like (20)

farrell wrote:
I hope they never get it.

You are a charmer aren't you.

I suspect that it may take some time before the Tour comes to this island again anyway, but we can but dream.

Ride more, ride better

posted by Sniffer [125 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:46

like this
Like (16)

Much as I love the Tour coming to Yorkshire, I do feel that even God's County is a bit too far from France for the Grand Depart. Ditto, only more so, for the Giro starting in Belfast (or Denmark, or, as rumour has it for a future edition, Dubai Sick )

Nothing against Edinburgh at all, but for me it's just too far away. Selfishly, I love the big races coming here, and I can't wait to go and witness a couple of Tour stages just a short train ride away, but from a purist point of view I don't really like much more than the odd loop over a (mountainous or cobbled) border.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1002 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:51

like this
Like (16)

Yeah it would be shame if an organiser that actually has the financial backing in place before bidding was to get the Grand Depart. What a load of rubbish.

I doubt Glasgow will get a Sky Ride again, the Broomielaw that was used last time is about to be turned into a bus highway. No space for bikes anymore.

posted by euanlindsay [75 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:53

like this
Like (18)

I for one would love to see them get it, cant see it in the next few years but why not in 2017+ and if they gain independance it would be lush seeing London squirm as they couldn't demand a stage like this year, lol.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2642 posts]
20th February 2014 - 23:17

like this
Like (16)

This makes sense as a decision, they're spending more to bring the Tour Series into the city and that'll have more of an effect than the 350 people that turned up for a Skyride - the smaller volunteer run Skyrides will still take place throughout the year so it's not exactly been completely written off.

The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

mtm_01's picture

posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
21st February 2014 - 11:06

like this
Like (9)

There has been lots of whinging and moaning from many Scottish people because they didn't get the Grand Depart this year and much bitterness that Yorkshire were awarded it.

So, you know, watching Scottish people get wound up about not getting tour stages has become quite amusing. Long may it continue.

Sod it, I'd work full time for free on a bid that sees them start the Tour, the Giro and Vuelta in Berwick-On-Tweed for ten years from the point they gain independence and then refuse travel across the border in the week leading up to the event.

posted by farrell [1247 posts]
21st February 2014 - 11:24

like this
Like (9)

This parochialism achieves nothing.

The Grand Tours are extended to other countries and then the regions in that country moan about who got a stage?

Then people start complaining about which cities, towns and villages in that region get it?

What about if Belgium splits in two? Will this affect the classics? What if Catalonia separates from Spain?

stenmeister's picture

posted by stenmeister [46 posts]
21st February 2014 - 12:21

like this
Like (8)

Isn't it a bit of a poisoned chalice anyway? (I say this as a proud Yorkshireman who is as giddy as a school girl that the Grand Départ is coming to my back yard.)

Him Up North's picture

posted by Him Up North [103 posts]
21st February 2014 - 13:25

like this
Like (6)

That last post was in no way meant to be pejorative of school girls btw Big Grin

Him Up North's picture

posted by Him Up North [103 posts]
21st February 2014 - 13:26

like this
Like (8)

The real reason the Sky ride failed in Edinburgh is because the City Council failed to support it seriously and close roads in the centre to make it attractive to families.

The reason Edinburgh’s bid 2014 Grand Départ failed was because, unlike Yorkshire, the City Council failed to show any engagement with the grass roots to show that Edinburgh had a cycling culture.

The City Edinburgh Council talk about wanting to make Edinburgh a cycle friendly city, but real action on the ground is sadly lacking.

posted by Kim [126 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:17

like this
Like (10)