THE Tour of Britain is pedalling back to the Borders this year.

And for the very first time a stage will start and finish in the region.

The Scottish Borders will host stage two of the country’s biggest professional cycle race, and largest free to spectate event.

Starting and finishing in Kelso, the cyclists will complete an anti-clockwise loop of 165 kilometres around Coldstream, Chirnside, the Lammermuirs and Duns before heading past Scott’s View to Melrose and around the Eildon Hills, before a fast run back alongside the River Tweed to the cobbled finish in Kelso Square.

After successfully hosting a stage finish in both 2015 and 2017, the Tour’s organisers have worked with Scottish Borders Council to bring the event back to Kelso for both the start and finish of the stage on Sunday, September 8.

Councillor Mark Rowley, spokesman for Business and Economic Development, is delighted with the exposure the race will bring to the region.

He said: “This will be the seventh time in 10 years that the Scottish Borders has hosted the Tour of Britain, but importantly this is the first time that we’ve had both a stage start and finish and also the full stage route.

“The organisers were delighted with the Kelso town centre venue two years ago, and the Council has worked with them to develop an exciting plan and route – one that again emphasises our position as Scotland’s leading cycling destination.

“We know that the 2017 stage finish in Kelso brought many thousands of visitors in to the area, and had an extremely positive impact for local shops, cafes and accommodation providers. It is estimated that the economic impact was £1.5million then, and once again we hope that the traders in Kelso and along the route will embrace this latest opportunity.

“Our ongoing commitment, and investment, to bring international quality events to the area, such as the Tour of Britain, and support local events to grow and develop, is a major part of our economic development strategy as they can have a hugely significant impact on the local economy, both around the events themselves and in their legacy.”

The last time Kelso hosted the finish of stage one in 2017, Australian Caleb Ewan took victory in a thrilling sprint.

And spectators will likely be in for similar excitement this year.

As well as the sprint for the finish line, the stage will feature three intermediate Eisberg Sprints and three designated SKODA King of the Mountains climbs.

OVO Energy Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett told us: “We know Kelso and the beautiful Scottish Borders very well and are excited that we can host a full stage within the region for the first time.”

Full details of competing teams and riders for the 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain will be announced in the summer.

In a joint statement, Kelso councillors Simon Mountford, Euan Robson and Tom Weatherston, said: “The return of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain to Kelso for a third time is fantastic news for the town and this year’s event will build on the success of 2017.

“We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors from across the Borders and further afield to the town on Sunday 8 September and are confident that the town’s traders will ensure it is looking at its best.”

Once again ITV4 will screen three-hours of live coverage of every stage, with broadcasters around the world also signed up to cover the event.