Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Bike race attracts record numbers

Cyclists (generic) Picture: Eye Wire
More than 3,000 people are expected to take part in May's event

This year's Etape Caledonia cycle race will be the biggest so far after all 3,000 general entry spots were booked.

The event has caused anger among some Highland Perthshire locals who believe business is negatively affected by road closures during the ride.

Letters are due to be sent this week to residents who will be hit by the closures during the race on 17 May.

Last year, 1,900 people took part in the 81-mile ride and about 6,000 people turned up to watch.

Some of the cyclists came from as far afield as Canada, America and Argentina to take part in the event, which starts and ends in Pitlochry.

Local residents are working to put on side events, including a cycling festival and a 10km run for Macmillan Cancer Support in Aberfeldy.

The benefits to us go beyond the actual race weekend as some of our guests from last year stayed with us again
Martin Anderson
B&B owner

Councillor John Kellas, from Perth and Kinross Council, said: "The success of the Etape Caledonia is fantastic news for the local economy of Highland Perthshire and for the wider economy of Perth and Kinross.

"We have seen the Etape grow year-on-year, bringing more and more benefits to local people as well as providing a fantastic experience for visiting participants and spectators.

"The fact that 3,000 people have already signed up for the 2009 Etape shows the pulling power that the event now has.

"There is no doubt that the success of Great Britain's cycling team in Beijing has led to an upsurge of interest in the sport and Highland Perthshire is in a great position to capitalise on that."

Valuable bookings

He added that Etape Caledonia allowed the council to showcase the area to thousands of visitors who would hopefully return for a holiday.

Some hotels are already fully-booked for the event.

Martin Anderson, owner of the Craigatin House and Courtyard B&B in Pitlochry, said: "Within days of the 2009 Etape Caledonia dates being announced last summer we were fully booked. We could have filled our rooms many times over for the 2009 event.

"The benefits to us go beyond the actual race weekend as some of our guests from last year stayed with us again throughout the summer and autumn to enjoy the attractions of the area that they missed during their first visit.

"Advance bookings of this nature are very valuable to us and we look forward to welcoming the cyclists and their friends and family back to Highland Perthshire in May 2009."

There are still 500 entry slots available for those who can raise 150 for event sponsors MacMillan Cancer Support.

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SEE ALSO
Cycle race geared for five years
03 Sep 08 |  Tayside and Central
Roads anger over major cycle race
18 May 08 |  Tayside and Central
British skiers enter cycle event
30 Apr 08 |  Winter Sports
New rules for mass cycling race
31 Jan 08 |  Tayside and Central
Row over bike event road closures
20 Jun 07 |  Tayside and Central

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