I’m ignoring my own advice about counting your chickens with regards to a Scottish Grand Depart for the Tour de France. I much prefer to assume they have already hatched and proceed directly to speculating on a prologue route.
Dave Hamill kindly commented with an excellent suggestion that takes as many attractions and historic monuments as it’s possible to do in 5 miles.
Dave’s route starts in the Grassmarket, surrounded by historic buildings and closes, where the Nocturne Series has hosted an elite crit for the past three years. Surrounded by pubs and hotels, this is an ideal starting point for media and hospitality, although conditions might be a bit tight.
Dave’s course resists the brutal cobbled climb of Victoria Street, seen above, and instead riders would speed past this and through the flat of the Cowgate and under the South bridge. The road takes you slightly downhill through the lower reaches of old town to Holyrood road. The streets and closes are host to numerous historic tales and ghost stories – plenty for Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen to witter on about as the sprinters coast round early on.
Turning sharply right, the course climbs and rolls around Arthur’s Seat, one of Edinburgh’s seven hills. It opens out and allows the helicopter to get some scenic panoramas and overhead shots. Fans could be packed in in their thousands around here, giving access to many more people than the narrow confines of the old town. This loop frequently hosts to triathlons and duathlons, with the duathlon world championships held there in 2010.
At the end of the Arthur’s Seat loop, the course comes past the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace, giving further opportunity for TV shots and commentary, as well as a series of turns to test the riders.
From there it’s a straight run through the Canongate and back up the High Street, also known as Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, to a spectacular finish on the Castle Esplanade. This long cobbled drag would be agony for any rider wishing to contest the overall.
The wide castle esplanade is ideal for the finish, with plenty of space for team buses, media and spectators. It is no stranger to big events – every year the concourse hosts the Royal Military Tattoo, a parade/show that runs for the full three weeks of the Edinburgh International Festival.