IT’S the three-day elite bike race that aims to inspire a nation of Scottish women cyclists and as it set off from Glasgow’s George Square led by a vanguard of community cyclists – and their young daughters – the sun was shining.

The first stage of the inaugural Women’s Tour of Scotland from Dundee to Dunfermline – may have been halted due to driving rain. But the riders limbering up under blue skies to compete in the second stage from Glasgow to Perth yesterday claimed they were anticipating a fast race with tough competition.

Organisers claim that the race, which starts and finishes in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park today, is the first in the cycling calendar to offer a women’s event before a men’s, making it a sporting landmark. Over the three days 16 professional teams will take part including elite cyclists from Scotland, Canada, Australia, Korea and a host of European countries amongst others.

Event organiser Darren Clayton, said: “They will race through 350km of beautiful countryside to see who will be crowned the Queen of Scots. We have teams from around the world battling it out, and we have a huge legacy programme as well to inspire the next generation. It’s an annual event and we’ll look to grow this in the years to come. I think it’s significant that we have delivered a women’s event ahead of a men’s which has never happened in the world of cycling. Usually there is a men’s event and women’s event tagged on, but we have gone the other way. It’s an important thing we’ve done to help deliver and promote women’s cycling. I think it’s also a big statement in terms of Scotland. It is committed to promoting women’s events at the highest level – Event Scotland is a partner in this along with Scottish Cycling. We’ve also equalled the prize fund, equivalent to the men’s so parity across the board was really important to us and there’s a big sustainability push too – by 2020 we’ll be the first carbon positive event there is.”

Outside the Scottish minibus Katie Archibald, Scotland and GB Olympic cyclist female cyclist, was making final tweaks and looking forward to a route that took in her home town of Milngavie and familiar landmarks such as Duke’s Pass, north of Aberfoyle. “I was heartbroken for the organisers yesterday when it was cancelled but now we’re here in glorious sunshine,” she said. “In terms of women’s cycling we don’t have to mimic what the men have done before.

“We’re carving our own path. Scotland is really taking its place as a sporting nation – the World Cycling Championships are coming in 2023 and it makes me very proud to call this place home. This is the inaugural tour and years from now – as this evolves and progresses – hopefully it’ll be something I’ll be proud to say I was involved in from the start.”

As the cyclists from around the world – including Canadian Team Tibco-SVB rider Alison Jackson who went on win after a sprint finish claiming the first-ever stage victory of the tour, it fell to community cyclists Women on Wheels to get things started.

The group was led by Jo Myall and her daughter’s Esther (12) and Susanna (7) who had cycled from Clydebank to take part. “It’s a great way to inspire women to get involved in cycling,” said Myall.

“Cycling give you freedom.” Esther added: “It’s very exciting to be here. Being on my bike just makes me feel good.”