SCOTTISH Borders Council leader Euan Jardine has welcomed the news that the South of Scotland has joined a prestigious list of world-leading cycling destinations after being awarded a UCI Bike Region Label.

The South is the first region in Scotland to be awarded the label by cycling’s world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

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The label recognises a city or region’s commitment to both Elite cycling competition and cycling for all.

The label – which is held by just 26 cities and regions across the globe, including the City of Glasgow – acknowledges locations that not only host major UCI events, but also invest in developing community cycling and related infrastructure and programmes.

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The award was presented to the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership – made up of local and national partners representing thousands of people across the region – whose submission to the UCI highlighted its ground-breaking ten-year strategy, which was launched last year.

The strategy aims to ensure cycling becomes the most popular choice for shorter, everyday journeys by 2032 and has a ten point priority plan with funding of £94million drawn up.

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Investments from partners have included bringing events of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships to Dumfries & Galloway (para-cycling road) and the Scottish Borders (mountain bike cross-country), which it is estimated will boost the South’s economy by £1million and have attracted 10,000 visitors.

A number of national and local partners in the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership have welcomed the news.

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Councillor Euan said: “This award is recognition of not only the partners’ efforts in developing and delivering the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy but also our region’s rightful position as the ‘Home of the Bike’ and host to many world-class cycling events.

“As a region with an already well-established reputation for cycling, UCI Bike Region status will give us further exposure across the globe and help to drive more cycle tourism.

“With significant ongoing investment into cycling, from hosting events of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships to the development of the Kirkpatrick C2C and Destination Tweed long distance routes and a world-leading Mountain Bike Innovation Centre, this is a hugely exciting time for cycling in the South of Scotland.”

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Scottish Government Tourism Minister Richard Lochhead said: “I welcome this decision to award UCI Bike Region status to the South of Scotland because of its action to promote cycling in the community and invest in infrastructure.

“This can unlock the broader benefits of active travel and further improve increasing levels of participation.

“This is what a wellbeing economy is all about - supporting a healthy and just transition to net zero.

“The region is benefitting from a growing reputation as an ideal location for cycling, with visitors and locals alike enjoying our amazing outdoors.”