The 2021 Tour of Britain will visit Scotland for the final two stages this weekend. With Hawick, Edinburgh, Stonehaven, and Aberdeen hosting the stage starts and finishes, we thought it would be apt to preview the route and some of the best places to watch the racing.
Stage 7 – Hawick to Edinburgh (194.8km)
While the Scottish Borders is no stranger to the race, Hawick will make its debut as a host venue in 2021, joining Jedburgh, Peebles and Kelso in welcoming the Tour. The 195km stage will feature three official climbs the first of which is the Cat 3 climb at Berrybush – a gradual 2.7km rise at 4% average gradient near Ettirck, before the first intermediate Sprint in Innerleithen. The race heads North before a turn for the East, which takes in the slightly harder Cat 2 climb of Stow Hill (3.1km at 5.1%), with the second sprint on the descent into Lauder at 97km into the stage.
The final sprint prime of the day comes in Duns with just over 70km to go, the route then takes a turn to the North-West as it aims for the capital, but not before the peloton hits final climb of the stage at Wanside Rig – a Cat 2, 4.1km climb with an average gradient of 3.6%. The final 40km are on the rolling terrain of East Lothian before finishing in Edinburgh. The final comes through the Southside of the city before entering the grounds of Holyrood Park – finishing on Queens Drive in a similar final kilometre to that of the final stage of the Women’s Tour of Scotland in 2018.
The route can be viewed in more detail here.
The difficulty of Stage 6 through the Pennines for the General Classification teams (won by Wout van Aert) could make Stage 7 the ample opportunity for another breakaway success. It will be a battle between break and bunch for a sprint, however we are tempted to lean towards a successful breakaway, especially if a tailwind manifests.
Where to Watch:
The summit of Wanside Rig with its vast openness would be an ample viewing point to watch the fight for the KOM point and may possibly be used as and springboard for attacks if the wind is blowing. However, the openness of the Rig does make it exposed to the Scottish weather and so it is advised to check the weather forecast beforehand. Please feel free to send in your photos and videos from the side of the road to @ScottishCycling on Twitter and Instagram.
As with all stages of this years’ Tour, the stage will be available to watch from flag to finish on ITV4 and ITV Hub with a nightly highlights programme at 8pm.
Stage 8: Stonehaven – Aberdeen (173km)
The race heads north to Aberdeenshire for its grand finale which will be the furthest north the race has ever visited in its current incarnation. Although Aberdeen is no stranger to elite racing with the Granite City hosting several rounds of the Tour Series in recent years.
Stonehaven will host the start of the stage before the race heads South towards Fettercairn. The race will then turn back north to face one of Scotland’s most infamous climbs – the Cairn o’Mount. Topping out at 450m, the 3.2km Category 1 climb has an average gradient of 9.5% but also has pitches of over 25% and is arguably Scotland’s most exposed climb.
The race route will then head toward the sprint at Finzean, which also marks the start of the second climb of the day – the Category 3 climb to the Corsedardar Monument which is 2.8km long at a much more manageable 4.2% average gradient. The race will continue to kick west with sprints in Aboyne and Ballater coming at 69 and 88km mark. The final sprint is quickly followed by a turn to the east as the race will then aim for the final climb of the Tour – the attritional ramp of Queens View – the Category 3 climb is 5km in length but only boasts an average gradient of 3%.
Whilst the final 65km do not feature any categorised climbs, it certainly is not pan flat terrain, the peloton will eventually see the Granite City for the first time after exiting Westhill with 18km to go. The finish in the city will see the riders head towards the city centre via Queens Road, before heading north onto King Street. The route sees the riders head all the way to Bridge of Don before cutting back onto the esplanade, which makes up the final straight last 2km of flat, exposed running to the line at the Beach Ballroom.
The route can be viewed in more detail here.
Although the massive climb of Cairn O’Mount is on the route it probably comes too early in the stage to cause any major lasting splits in the bunch. We expect a final reduced bunch sprint on the Esplanade in Aberdeen.
Where to watch:
The obvious place to watch the racing will be Cairn o’Mount and many are planning to ride out to the climb to watch. However, it is worth remembering that the B974 Cairn o’Mount Road will be closed to vehicles from 6pm on Saturday 11 September until after the race has passed on Sunday 12 September. Click here for details of spectator parking for the climb. The Cairn is very exposed to the Scottish weather and so it is advised to check the weather forecast beforehand.
As with all stages of this years’ Tour, the stage will be available to watch from flag to finish on ITV4 and ITV Hub with a nightly highlights programme at 8pm. Again, please feel free to send in your photos and videos from the side of the road to @ScottishCycling on Twitter and Instagram.