Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 18:23 UK

Cycle race geared for five years

Mountain biker (Picture: Eye Wire)
Organisers hope 4,000 cyclists will take part in next year's event

The Etape Caledonia is set to be staged for at least another five years, after councillors approved the plans.

The cycle event takes place across 81 miles of Highland Perthshire and is the only race in the UK where all the roads the riders pass through are closed.

Local people have claimed that business is negatively affected by the closures and they cannot travel around normally.

Next year's event is planned for 17 May and it is hoped that about 4,000 cyclists will take part.

Councillors also agreed to give up to 15,000 for promotional activities aimed at maximising the opportunities to attract visitors to the area.

Economic boost

The 2008 event in May attracted 1,702 cyclists and 2,592 spectators.

An economic assessment has found that 85% of the people came from outwith Perth and Kinross and 38% were not from Scotland.

It is estimated the visitors boosted the local economy by 416,885, which is an improvement on 2007's figure, when 191,337 was brought in.

In total, 65% of participants rated the closed roads as the best aspect of the event, while 32% stated the scenery.

Also, 84% said they were likely to return to the area outwith the event within the next three years.

More than 100 businesses were also surveyed and the estimated value of the negative impact dropped from 66,000 in 2007 to 36,000 in 2008.

Ideas to encourage even more people to visit the event in 2009 included a cycling festival in Aberfeldy, an endurance hill climb for cyclists up Glen Quaich, more attractions at the finish and start line and a community event in Kinloch Rannoch.

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