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
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.