It was estimated that The Tour of Britain would roll into Castle Douglas around 1530 on Sunday 4 September for a final sprint finish up King Street, the town’s main shopping street.
Today was the opening stage of a week long cycling event and the only one in Scotland which had started with The Grand Depart, with riders leaving Glasgow's George Square before doing a circuit of the city and heading south through various towns and villages.
The Tour of Britain has became a major event attracting big names and this year there are eight medalist from the Rio Olympics including, Mark Cavendish, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Owain Doull, Elia Viviani, Jack Bobridge, Alex Edmondson, Michael Hepburn and Tom Dumoulin. Other big names in the sport were due to take part including the former world hour record holder Rohan Dennis and German sprinter Andre Greipel, nicknamed The Gorilla,
It was predicted that ten thousand people would descend on Castle Douglas which only has a population of just over four thousand so it could be a bit crowded. With the tour having such a high media interest this was going to have a large impact for a lot of residents with parking restrictions being enforced. This is not an event that is just thought up overnight and there is bound to have have been forward planning and yet Dumfries and Galloway council only informed residents about these parking restrictions just over a week before they were due to be put in place. When asked why there had to be parking restrictions on streets that were not even part of the route a spokesman for D&G council replied, "The restriction was requested by Police Scotland to ease congestion and to accommodate the diverted traffic." It was also amusing to see so many council workers out weeding pavements and sweeping the streets which would suggest the town only deserves this type of treatment on special occasions.
As a build up to the arrival of the tour cyclists arriving in the town various children’s races were held along King Street.
I had a high viewpoint thanks to Eric at Monty's so at least I had an unrestricted view which would have been difficult with no press pass and the number of spectators lining the street. A report in the media had predicted that the group would arrive in a tight bunch and they were correct. Unfortunately I was not able to see the crash that involved Mark Cavendish as the cyclists took the turn onto King Street, it must be disappointing to cycle just over a hundred miles and crash within sight of the finish line. The stage was won by Germany’s Andre Greipel.
As you would expect, there was a great deal of interest in Sir Bradley Wiggins with a large crowd gathering outside his motorhome in the chance they would get to see this top cyclist at close hand and perhaps even an autograph or if you are really lucky a selfie.
The presentation for the winner of the stage was still taking place when the support vehicles started to move out of Castle Douglas heading south to Carlisle where the whole thing starts again tomorrow with a 117 mile cycle from Carlisle to Kendal through the beautiful but hilly Lake District.