Moray Councillors will be asked to give their permission for a major cycle race to pass through several Speyside communities later this year.
Plans are being laid for the ‘Etape Royale’ to pass through Dufftown and Tomintoul on the last Sunday of September – and if they agree several roads in the area will be temporarily closed to the public.
The company behind the event, Wildfox, hope to attract up to 2500 entrants for the international-class event that would start and end in Ballater and they already have support from Aberdeenshire Council.
However, before they go ahead they plan to hold a series of community consultations, with meetings already set up in Lecht (March 17), Keig Hall (March 18), Dinnet (March 19) and Dufftown (March 25) with another meeting in Tomintoul to be arranged.
Roads that would be closed are the A941, B9009, B9008 and A939, with sections around Dufftown closed from 7.30am until 12.30pm and those around Tomintoul from 8am until 2pm. While the centres of both towns would not carry cyclists taking part in the event traffic travelling in and out of the towns would be affected by the closures.
In a report to Moray’s Full Council taking place on Wednesday acting senior engineer Pat Douglass says that while an economic benefit can usually be expected from such major events that call for road closures, in this case the majority of participants will not be staying in Moray.
The report says: “During the event the riders will travel through Moray but will have no need to stop at any Moray businesses as the ride organisers will be providing feed stations and meeting all of their needs.
“This is different from when cyclists normally travel through these areas and make use of local businesses for refreshments, accommodation or for general tourism.”
The report adds that there should be other benefits derived from the event passing through Moray: “The establishment of a mass participation ride such as the Etape Royale could generate positive publicity for Moray leading to an increase in tourists and cyclists visiting Moray throughout the year, and be beneficial to tourism outlets, accommodation providers, etc as well as encouraging more residents to try cycling.
“There is also the potential to attract tourists who may wish to watch the event.”
If the event goes ahead as planned and proves a success then Wildfox say that they will seek to expand the event in future years around Dufftown with an additional cycle event based at Glenlivet.