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Wiggins hailed as Tour sweeps into the Borders

THOUSANDS lined the streets of the Scottish Borders hoping to catch a glimpse of Tour de France and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins.

The rider, credited with sparking a national cycling boom, was competing in the Tour of Britain, an eight-day race of which stage three wound its way 94 miles from Jedburgh to Dumfries yesterday.

World champion Mark Cavendish was also among the pro-cycling peloton alongside a host of the sport's biggest names, including two-times Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso and 2008 Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez.

Among the crowds was John Turnbull, 36, a prison officer, and Louise Aitken, 34, a care assistant, who had travelled from Falkirk with their sons Logan, five, and Archie, three.

Mr Turnbull said: "It's exciting to be here. We all enjoy cycling, but Logan in particular is a huge fan. We watched the Tour de France and Olympics so it's great to be able to see it up close."

Cycling fans lined the route as the Tour of Britain travelled from Jedburgh through Hawick, Moffat and Johnstonebridge into Dumfries.

Among the crowds were pupils from local schools, many sporting Wiggins-esque sideburns.

Councillor Finlay Carson, events champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: "The council has got right behind the Tour of Britain from the start as we can see how well it promotes cycling for health, sport and tourism.

"It is fantastic to bring world-class road cycling to our region and, just as importantly, the television and print coverage of the Tour in Dumfries and Galloway will be seen and read by millions of people across the UK and the world."

Councillor Vicky Davidson, of Scottish Borders Council, added: "The Borders is becoming increasingly well-known amongst cyclists and visitors as Scotland's leading cycling destination with our excellent network of routes, specialist shops and facilities."

Yesterday's stage was won by Cavendish after a fiercely contested sprint finish.

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