Inverurie and Alford prepare for the Tour of Britain cycle race

Stage 1 begins on Sunday, September 4.

The AJ Bell Tour of Britain cycling race kicks off on Sunday September 4 from Aberdeen and the towns of Inverurie and Alford are set to play a central role.

Starting at 11am in Aberdeen city centre, the race route takes a long westerly lap through the Shire.

Heading north to the beach esplanade and across Don’s Bridge, the route passes through Cothal to Keithhall and descends into Inverurie where it completes a circuit of the town before passing Garioch’s Chapel and to Insch via Keig.

From Insch it heads towards Kennethmont before turning south and making the long drive through Alford and Craigievar.

Passing through Tarland it returns to Cambus O’May and along Royal Deeside to its finish line at Glenshee.

Along the way, Inverurie and Alford will play a special role in the stage hosting two of the three sprint sections.

Start in Aberdeen where a full weekend of activities including the Scottish Criterium Cycling Championships is planned. when runners meet 0KM (which you may hear referred to as “mile zero”) on the Aberdeen Beach Esplanade, the race officially begins.

This is often when a small group of riders, usually from different teams, will attack at the front of the race and ride together to distance themselves from the main peloton.

If there is a large group of breakaway riders, the main peloton behind can try to pick up their pace in order to catch the breakaway and not allow them to build a strong time gap.

On the road there is potential for a lot to happen on the country road through Aberdeenshire and each team has a communication system where they can pass information from their team car to their runners and vice versa.

During the race, the riders may encounter mechanical problems, such as flat tires, broken chains, maybe an accident, which will require the team car to reach them and quickly solve the problem – sometimes the rider can actually switch to a new bike to make sure they waste as little time as possible.

On each stage there are sections designated SKODA King of the Mountains (KoM).

The road through Inverurie
The road through Inverurie

These key climbs are where riders compete for points for the SKODA KoM jersey, with three, Bennachie Forest, Lord’s Throat and Suie Hill, all between Alford and Inverurie, with the fourth on the final approach to the ski center of Glenshee.

For many, these are great places to watch the race, as riders often go slow as they tackle the toughest climbs.

But speed is also an element of the race and this stage includes three sections of intermediate sprints.

Here runners compete for points and time bonuses so the action is fast and frenetic and residents of Inverurie and Alford are regaled with the former in Blackhall Road (Inverurie) and Montgarrie Road (Alford) while the third takes place in Ballater.

With this stage ending in a climb, the best climbers are expected to come out on top and look to gain time on their rivals.

In Inverurie from 10:00am to 2:00pm, food and drink vans will be available with a pipe show and cycling will be encouraged with bike parking at Kellas and cycling related stalls including Pedal Power, TEN Cycling Club.

The city’s merchants also find themselves in the spirit of the event with the holding of an ongoing window dressing competition.

The Garioch Charity Shop has already created an impressive storefront
The Garioch Charity Shop has already created an impressive storefront

A special cycling day is organized at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford before and after the stages and as part of the “Cycle Aberdeenshire” programme.

The museum will host a number of cycling-related activities, with families able to book a session on the outdoor track and bring their bikes with them for a safe, traffic-free ride.

Additionally, the museum has a fine collection of bicycles from the last century and beyond and this option will be combined with Live Life Aberdeenshire’s outdoor attractions being available, as the outdoor cycle track and climbing wall will be available free of charge.

ITV4 will show live flag-to-flag coverage of every stage and nightly highlights, allowing fans across the UK to watch wherever they are.

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