IN the words of Bob Dylan: “The times they are a changing.” One great example that confirms this is the recent launch of the Women’s Tour of Scotland, a new cycling tour which has been included in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) calendar as a professional race fixture.

This event will be hosted over the weekend of August 9-11, with the first day of racing kicking off from Dundee’s iconic waterfront down to Dunfermline. Glasgow will be the starting point for day two, finishing off in the beautiful surroundings of the Fair City of Perth.

The final day is in Edinburgh, and the peloton will enter Holyrood Park where they will experience three Queen of the Mountains climbs. This will make the final 18 kilometres decisive. Overall the riders will cover 350km.

The great thing about this tour is that firstly they have chosen Scotland and secondly it is targeted at female cyclists and furthermore, as it should be, the winner will get the same prize money as a male rider equivalent would get, on a similar race.

Given that it was International Women’s Day last week, it is somewhat sad that we are still feeling grateful that an event recognises equality and rewards an athlete, no matter gender.

Preparation to participate in elite sport requires the same commitment and hard work whether you are male or female. This is no doubt an enlightened move from Zeus Events who have put together this innovative race which will bring some of the world’s top-class female cyclists to Scotland from 8-20 of the leading elite teams.

The final day of at Holyrood Park will be a fun family day as well as the start and finish of the official tour, and there will also be a charity challenge for fundraisers who will have an opportunity to ride the final stage.

It was great to hear the organisers speak of the beauty of Scotland as being one of the key factors in their choice to make it the home of the tour. And I am delighted to hear that there will also be a legacy angle, after the organisers made a five-year commitment to Scotland, and I hope it inspires many women to take up the sport of cycling.