The Scottish Borders and Edinburgh could host the Tour de France as part of a bid to bring the cycling event to the UK.
The proposal would involve the Scottish capital hosting a short time-trial in 2017 called the Tour prologue.
Further stages could then be held in the Scottish Borders and England. Supported by EventScotland, the Scottish government, British Cycling and UK Sport, the bid’s aim is to keep “the Tour in the UK for as long as possible”.
Tour de France in the Scottish Borders
The plan to host stages in Scotland first arose last year, with more details emerging this week. Such an event would be a great boost for tourism in the Scottish Borders and north Northumerland.
Apparently Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) 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.
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.”
London hosted the Grand Depart in 2007 and the Tour regularly starts outside of France.
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.
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.”
He said it would do all it could to encourage race organisers to “keep their amazing race on our shores for as many stages as possible”.
The south of Scotland already plays a major role in the Tour of Britain cycling race, with the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway regularly hosting stages in recent years.