Edinburgh visits Tour in preparation for 2017 bid
Bid would be in competition with Yorkshire's 2016 Tour aspirations
Representatives from British Cycling, UK Sport and EventScotland visited Liege this weekend for the Grand Depart as part of a bid to win the opening stages of the Tour de France for Scotland in 2017.
The bid comes alongside one from Yorkshire, which made a formal bid earlier this year for the 2016 hosting, with the proposed routes of the opening two stages taking in Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, York, Scarborough and the Yorkshire Dales.
Edinburgh Castle would be the location for the presentation of the riders in Scotland, using the new stands made for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, offering a seating capacity of over 8,000. It would be followed by a prologue staged in Edinburgh taking in the Queens’ Edinburgh residence Holyrood Palace, The Scottish Parliament, the Royal Mile and Arthurs Seat.
Stuart MacKenzie at EventScotland said that the Scottish bid was not in direct competition with Yorkshire's campaign, although it was unlikely that both would succeed, given that foreign starts tend to take place only every two or three years.
He said: "Yorkshire have expressed their interest for 2016 and possibly 2014, while we are looking at 2017 so we are not directly competing, though it is unlikely that the Tour would return twice within the space of two to three years.
"The decision about where the Tour will go ultimately rests with ASO and our focus is on developing a strong proposal that is appealing to them as Tour organisers and will provide a great race for riders, teams, spectators and sponsors.
"ASO have been impressed with our outline plans, which include Edinburgh as the city for the Grand Depart, and we hope to be able to confirm our final route proposal at the end of the year.
He added that he hoped the experience would not be exclusively Scottish, but perhaps work as a longer event, snaking the length of Britain over a series of days.
He said "Edinburgh Castle is a world-renowned landmark, which lends itself very well to the presentation of riders, and the beautiful city would provide the perfect stage for the prologue.
"We are considering up to three stages, which would bring the Tour right through the heart of the country. We want to ensure that if the Tour returns it would create the biggest possible impact on the whole of Britain."
Britain last hosted the Tour de France in 2007, when London and Kent hosted the first two days of the race, with the Prologue won by Fabian Cancellara on the opening day and Robbie McEwen sprinting to victory in Stage 1 in Canterbury 24 hours later.
Mark Cavendish, whose mother is from Yorkshire, has publicly backed the county's bid.