THE toughest prolonged sporting event in the world, the Tour de France, finishes in Paris today in a leisurely way – the riders cracking jokes to each other, sipping champagne, taking selfies as they go – after 20 days of rivalry, unimaginable and aching effort, spills, retirals and, for the most part, bitter disappointment.

After more than 2,000 miles of competition there’s none today, bar the traditional finish on the Champs-Elysees which is left to the sprinters – the few who have survived the Pyrenean and Alpine torture – who still perhaps compete for their prize, the green jersey.

But Le Tour isn’t just a magnificent and awe-inspiring athletic competition, it’s also an epic, spectacular and glorious prolonged advertisement for France, its culture, way of life and its countryside. Sponsors line up to support it and fund the teams – as Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos has done, taking over from Sky – while millions of tourists, and not just bike fans, crowd the routes, cling to the mountainsides, stay in hotels, drink in bars and cafes, and spend money on food and gifts. It’s a euro bonanza.

Anyone who has seen the Tour live will have lasting memories, although the riders will have come and gone in seconds, starting in the hours before when the lengthy sponsors’ caravan comes through throwing out gifts like T-shirts and sweets to the discarded riders’ water bottles retrieved from the leading groups and the peloton, to the reminiscences afterwards, the photographs and the conversations in the town square bistros.

But even if the competitors at the heart of the event have bypassed quickly the large screens inside and outside will have been following on TV. From the cameras on the backs of motorbikes as they weave up and down the field to those in the helicopters overhead which don’t just capture the agony of the event below but the grandeur of the peaks and chateaux, to the eye-catching little tableaux put on by every village and town the route cuts through, from straw bales spelling out a message to massive art structures, down to sprayed support for a favourite rider on the roads.

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So why can’t we do it here? Why can’t we mount a race which will put Scotland at the forefront of the world’s attention and which would pull in millions in sponsorship cash and tourist euros, dollars and yen and do more for the country in a year than VisitScotland. After all, Yorkshire piggy-backed on a Le Tour start and launched its own bike race – it is a real point of conversation for cycle fans and ordinary punters.

And just think – even on a good day in Bronte Country, Yorkshire hasn’t a patch on bonny Scotland.

As well as the sponsorship, the TV rights and spin-offs, French towns and cities compete for Le Tour to start and finish in their town or city, from around £50,000 to £100,00, although this year Brussels is thought to have paid around £5 million for the Grand Depart there.

As with so many great ideas, the women have got there first, and this year’s three-stage Women’s Tour of Scotland sets off from Dundee on August 9.

So surely, with so much wonderful scenery to celebrate and so much international exposure to be enjoyed, a full professional Tour along the lines of the French extravaganza is long overdue?

To encourage the Scottish Government to take this idea and run, or rather pedal, with it, we’ve devised our own 10-stage tour, showing off the best of the country.

We’ve also borne in mind that we’ve had to miss some worthy parts out because the infrastructure can’t now support the tour caravan, the dozens of cars and vans, the number of beds needed for riders and support, as well as the thousands of people who will drive there and line routes, supporting the riders.

There would be intermediate sprints for prizes, also for hill and mountain wins, as well as prizes for the most combative rider of the day.

As well as a yellow jersey for the winner there would also be individual awards for the king of the mountains, a green jersey for the best sprinter, judged on points, and also an award for the young rider – under 25 – of the tour, judged on placing.

Obviously, the roads involved would be closed for the duration of the lead-up to the stage and its aftermath. So here it goes, the Tour D’Ecosse is off ...

Day One

The Tour leaves from Glasgow and heads south to Girvan, across to New Cumnock, through Kilmarnock and back to Glasgow 230 kilometres

Day Two

Depart from Glasgow, down through Clydebank and up along the side of Loch Lomond before the long climb to Crianlarich and the push to Glen Coe, Ballachulish and Fort William. Just over 160 kilometres.

Day Three

In the shadow of Ben Nevis the tour heads to Spean Bridge and Invergarry, before a left-hander towards Morvich and Dornie before ending at Kyle of Lochalsh. A shorter stage, some 120km, but a punishing and rewarding one.

Day Four

It’s a tour of Skye. From Kyle across the bridge and through Broadford, Portree, up through Skeabost and round past Dunvegan, down through Sligachan and back to Kyle. 160km

Day Five

Kyle to Inverness through Achnasheen and Dingwall. A stage of unexpected – and for many completely unknown – beauty. 130km

Day Six

From Inverness down the A9 (on the old road wherever possible) past Aviemore and over the Pass of Drumochter, on to Dalwhinnie and Pitlochry, then across to Bridge of Cally and Blairgowrie, and on to Dundee. 220km.

Day Seven

Time trial from Dundee to Perth. 40km of predominantly flat going – one for the speed merchants.

Day Eight

From Perth to Crieff, then Gleneagles, west to the Trossachs and finishing at Stirling. A stage of real variety and beauty. 160km

Day Nine

Leaving Stirling the riders head to Hamilton, the Biggar and up through Penicuik the Pentlands, to Musselburgh then Edinburgh, by way of Leith. 160km

Day Ten

The last day. The survivors do a circuit of Edinburgh of 40km culminating in a sprint at the top of the Royal Mile or, for the yellow jersey, a perambulation round the sights of the capital.

How does Le Tour work?

:: The winner is the rider who completes the course in the shortest time. So much so obvious. But he (or she) won’t do it without the assistance of the seven other riders in the team and the technical back-up.

:: Each team has a nominated leader (or in Ineos’ case two) with the other riders as domestiques, specialist sprinters or climbers (grimpeurs), the workers who are at the service of the leader, chasing down breakaways or delaying the pack (peloton), leading pursuits, sheltering the boss from the winds, dropping back to help him return if he’s in trouble, getting him drinks and feeding gels from the team cars.

:: Each stage has intermediate sprints – and/or climbs – which are sponsored with prizes and points for a half dozen or so riders. It’s the same for the first few riders at the stage end, with the addition of a time bonus for the winner, usually six seconds over the rest.

:: At the end of the tour the rider with the most sprint points wins the green jersey, the top climber wins the polka dot jersey, the overall winner the yellow – although in Tour D’Ecosse we’ll go for a saltire on navy blue.

:: It isn’t just an individual race – teams are rated according to their combined times, with prizes. The teams are sponsored, in most cases by more than one company.

:: The prize pot in Le Tour is relatively modest – when compared with Wimbledon or The Open – with a total of around £2 million to be won, which the 22 teams and the 176 riders are competing for.

:: The overall winner in the GC, the general classification, takes away £450,000 but, traditionally, splits the money with the seven other team members.