IT will be a very early start this Sunday for recently re-elected Perthshire North MSP, John Swinney.
The former Cabinet Secretary, who is already riding high on his recent re-election and the SNP’s victory at Scotland’s polling stations is yet to find out his new role in the Scottish Government, will oversee the official opening of the Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia at 6am on Sunday morning.
He will be joined by ‘Flying Scotsman’ and cycling legend, Graeme Obree, to launch what is the UK’s biggest closed road cycling event.
The event, run by IMG Challenger World, has experienced its most popular year to date with more than 5,000 participants signed up to take part in the UK’s only closed road cycling event.
The event has experienced its most popular year to date with more than 5,000 participants signed up to take part in the UK’s only closed road cycling event.
John Swinney said: “I am delighted to be launching this year’s Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia.
“The strength of this event continues to grow and it is a true showcase for Highland Perthshire’s beauty and welcoming atmosphere.
“With over 1,500 participants raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, a very worthwhile cause, it has a long lasting legacy that will be appreciated by many.
“The Scottish Government continues to support the development of events that showcase Scotland’s natural environment and deliver sustainable economic growth and prosperity within Scotland.
“Etape Caledonia has firmly established itself as a key event in Scotland’s sporting calendar, delivering value to businesses locally and beyond.”
John Swinney, who is a keen cyclist and fits in regular daily cycle ride into his demanding government schedule, will first bear witness to the nuptials of Rick Millin who will marry his fiancée, Jo Louden, on the start line of the event at 6am sharp, before proceeding to welcome all 5,000 participants to this year’s Etape Caledonia.
Participants include well-known TV personalities, Olympic athletes and a team of more than 1,500 Macmillan Cancer Support fundraisers who will be gathered at starting point in Pitlochry, ready to take on the 81-mile uphill challenge.
Etape Caledonia sold out in November 2010 with record numbers.
Participants are drawn in by the stunning scenery, the winding route through the picturesque landscapes, and the unique opportunity to enjoy this environment safely and without the pollution created by motor vehicles.
Amy Whiteley, of organisers IMG Challenger World, said: “I am delighted that John Swinney has agreed to open this year’s event. This year, we have 5,000 cyclists taking advantage of the safety of closed roads and fresh Highland air, enjoying Scotland at its very best.
“Already we’ve a strong increase in the number of cyclists enjoying the area throughout the year and we fully expect this year’s event to draw large crowds of spectators.
“With such substantial numbers participating we expect it to be a very busy weekend for the area, and a great boost to the economy of Highland Perthshire.”
“Tris Jones, biking events coordinator for Macmillan, said: “We appreciate his early start and hope he inspires others to get up early and cheer on our fantastic cycling team.
“All of the money raised will help Macmillan support people with cancer and their families, so we really appreciate all the fantastic support we’d had.”
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