WATCH: Sprint finish as tour hits Borders

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The Borders were in festival mood this week with the arrival of the AVIVA Tour of Britain and some of the world’s top cyclists.

Today, the race descended into Kelso in all its glory with team vans, sponsors and hundreds of spectators thronging around the spectacular finish in the grounds of Floors Castle.

Photographer Ian Georgeson, 07921 567360'Tour of Britain 2015, Sir Bradley Wiggins signs autographs at the finish, Floors castle, Kelso

Photographer Ian Georgeson, 07921 567360'Tour of Britain 2015, Sir Bradley Wiggins signs autographs at the finish, Floors castle, Kelso

There was drama concentrated in the last few kilometres of the stage - this year’s third - after the riders had navigated themselves over three climb sections in the afternoon, at Wauchope, Wilton Hill and Dingleton.

A three man breakaway that had got away from the main group after just 16 kilometres was hauled in by the rest of the riders in the closing stages of the race.

And that was not all - the yellow jersey wearer (the race leader), Petr Vakoc, was involved in a crash nearly three kilometres out. Crashing within that distance would have meant he received the same time as the other riders in the main group as they finished, but as it is the Czech will lose time.

In the end, the stage ended in thrilling fashion with a massed sprint through the golden gates of Floors Castle.

Team Sky’s Elia Viviano got himself to the fore, and was able to breast the tape in the classic cyclists’ pose: sitting up in the saddle, arms out saluting the crowd. Minutes later, Viviani was on the podium in front of the castle, being awarded the stage-winner’s award by the Duke Roxburghe.

Beaten into second place on the day was Juan Jose Lobato del Valle, who moved into the yellow jersey position overall.

The stretch from Kelso’s Roxburgh Street to the finish line - which included a tricky change of road surface from tarmac to cobbles and back again, was packed out with local schoolchildren, many still in their own cycle helmets, supporting their heroes.

And British favourites Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins received huge cheers, despite not finishing as high as they may have liked.

But the day was not just about the professionals.

The Floors Castle grounds were packed with spectators of all ages and cycling abilities. Some, like the Kelso Wheelers club members, had even been able to enjoy riding the last few kilometres of the stage prior to the main race coming through.

Wheeler Andrew Ker said: “It was very enjoyable.

“We got all our Junior Wheelers out there, so there were 30 or so of them, and some of the adult members went along too.

“We were joined by some members of other clubs as well, so there was a great atmosphere, and, year, it did get a little bit competitive, so we let the young ones race for the line!”

He went on: “We expect there to be an increase in interest again, just like there was when the tour came through Peebles two years ago.

“The club has had a nice busy time of late. There was a great family ride day at Floors on the Saturday, and on the Sunday we were on a course that linked the two official stages, doing 106 miles, so we’ve been busy!”

Doug Robertson of Berwick Wheelers was marking the end of his own cycling season by watching the tour at Floors Castle, before heading to Ford for a more hilly section the following day.

“We are a time trialist club ourselves,” he said, “so it’s great to have the chance to come and see these riders.

“We follow cycling all over, travelling quite a bit - it often stops in lovely places like this.

“I would have loved Mark Cavendish to have been more involved in the sprint finish today but he just wasn’t there today.

“He’s a bit of a favourite of mine, not that I model myself on him at all!”

Doug was among the fans milling around the post-race scene, right among the recovering riders and their extensive entourages. Many of the younger - and not so young- took the chance to quiz the more approachable pros about their day, and get memorabilia autographed.

Those will form many cherished memories for years to come, as will the commemorative hats and mocked up yellow jersey podium photos that were on offer outside the hospitality areas sponsored by Foxhills Hotel and Resort.