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Scots fail to make capital out of Tour de France

AS the clock ticks down ever closer to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Edinburgh's hopes of a moment basking in the sun some 18 days earlier by hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour de France now lie in tatters.

There will be no Bradley Wiggins in the capital 19 months from now. Mark Cavendish, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan will also notably absent – they'll all be 200 miles down the road in Leeds.

Yorkshire is to host the 2014 Grand Depart. Disappointing for Scottish cycling fans? Certainly. Not to mention EventScotland who have invested some five years in their bid, a project that has grown considerably in size and ambitions, garnering the support of the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly, British Cycling and UK Sport and VisitBritain.

So where did things go wrong for Edinburgh? While looking good on paper, not least the notion of bringing the Tour to within one hour of 50% of the UK population, getting on board with a "British" bid has meant sacrifices.

The final proposal is undoubtedly a diluted version of an idea first mooted in a meeting between EventScotland chief Paul Bush and Tour director Christian Prudhomme during the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

As efforts evolved to create a route spanning increased swathes of Britain, plans for a showpiece prologue time trial taking in the iconic landmarks of Edinburgh city centre, were scrapped and replaced by a conventional road stage.

Under the revised proposals, a team presentation on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle on the eve of the Tour would have preceded the start of stage one, a road race travelling south with both Dumfries and Newcastle in the frame for the finish.

Practical, yes, but lacking the jaw-dropping pizzazz of the world's top cyclists speeding around the winding, cobbled streets of the Scottish capital.

The bid, too, perhaps lacked big-name muscle from cycling circles. Former world road race champion Mark Cavendish, double Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy and Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958, all firmly got behind Yorkshire's ambitions and likely added sway to the decision. The Scottish rider David Millar was only signed up as an 11th-hour supporter for the Edinburgh/Britain bid last month.

While not to detract from all that Yorkshire can offer, ultimately, though, it may have been simple logistics that was the unravelling of Edinburgh.

Four stages to be held on British soil was always an ambitious proposal and potentially off-putting to organisers with two to three days more typically spent outside France for a Grand Depart. To date only Germany has had four, back in 1987.

So where from here? Onwards and upwards with 2017 the goal for Edinburgh and the British bid.

Not everyone is disappointed. The Scottish cycling legend Graeme Obree, a former world pursuit champion and twice holder of the hour record, yesterday described the news as "a blessing in disguise".

"Putting on an event like that wouldn't have come cheap," he told Herald Sport. "I would far rather see the money go into community sport. Where it's needed most."

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