THE first day of the inaugural Women’s Tour of Scotland was washed out on a day that race organisers admitted afterwards had only been suitable for open water swimming.

Everything was going swimmingly when the peloton embarked from its start line at an admittedly drookit Dundee during the morning, crowds lining the Tay Bridge as it crossed, but the race was yet to reach Cleish Hill, some 20km from its scheduled finish in Dunfermline, when a combination of race operators, UCI commissaires and Police Scotland arrived at the only decision they could.

They determined that the sheer amount of surface water and falling debris from the storm which hit Central Scotland yesterday was making roads impassable without serious risk to rider safety.

While honouring any points won up to that point in the Queen of the Mountains and sprint competitions, they took the decision to cancel the day’s racing there and then, with the start proper of this highly-anticipated event now put back to this morning at George Square, Glasgow.

Ironically, sun was splitting the sky by the time the two leaders in those categories, Denmark’s Cecile Uttrup Ludwig, and Eugenia Buzak of Slovenia, were presented with their jerseys in front of the hardy band of supporters who had braved the rain to stand on the finish line.

Pretty much putting the tin lid on a chaotic day in Fife was the fact that Ludwig’s presentation was made by Jim Leishman, the former Dunfermline manager and bard of Kelty who is now provost of the kingdom.

There was unanimity afterwards that organisers had taken the correct course of action after a day’s racing which was entirely in keeping with the brutal, attrional contests which the Scottish weather so often serves up at this time of year.

Only 12 men, after all, finished a savage men’s road race at Glasgow 2014 - the winner was future Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas – with last summer’s 2018 road race, won by Italy’s Matteo Trentin, similarly unfolding in a Glaswegian downpour.

“Look, we are disappointed,” said Darren Clayton, the man whose firm Zeus had the vision to make this event – with a five-year commitment to the calendar - a reality. “I think everyone is disappointed – all the volunteers and riders – but safety is paramount. We have staff out there, 300 people out there looking after the race.

“Water was apparently just coming off the fields, it was horrific,” Clayton added. “It was bad out there, just not safe. This has taken two years of planning, it is not a decision we take lightly, not a kneejerk reaction.”

“You can neutralise a race for half an hour but there was a lot of standing water, repetitively,” explained race director Alan Rushton. “As we entered into the depths of the storm there was a lot of debris coming out of trees, the water was getting deeper and deeper, at some parts it was a few feet deep and rising.

“It was mainly on the descending of the Cleish Hill climb, it was just too dangerous, you could get arms and collar bones broken too easily,” he added.

“We decided that today might have been better for an open water stage. Sadly we’ve had to abandon the stage but we have still decided to award sprint and queen of the mountain points.”

While it should be pointed out that extreme weather in the form of an ice storm on the Col d’Iseran forced the cancellation of a crucial stage of the Tour de France only last month, Scotland’s weather is set to serve up all four seasons are forecast again tomorrow as Stage Two takes riders up the Duke’s Pass from Glasgow en route to Perth, and on a couple of circuits of Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, tomorrow.

“It took a lot for us to pull the race but it is just a classic case of outdoor sport, that is what makes it exciting,” said Clayton. “If it was just a one-day race it would have been REALLY disappointing, but we are in Glasgow tomorrow going to Perth and then Edinburgh on Sunday. The first year of any event doesn’t want to have a PR disaster or any injuries. We move on.

“With the terrain and the weather, this could be the hardest bike race in the world in years to come,” the race organiser added ahead of a second stage which passes Katie Archibald’s home roads of Milngavie. “The terrain here is beautiful but challenging. Maybe it has got that gnarly Scottish thing going. Let’s hope we get bigger crowds in Glasgow and Edinburgh and we cheer these ladies home.”

“It is a pity the race was cancelled but safety first,” said Ludwig, of Bigla Pro cycling, one of the favourites to take this race overall. “I think this finish would have been pretty cool and there would have been a lot of spectators coming to cheer us on and I would have loved to have such a great atmosphere. But it is the way it is.

“It was quite tough but I am Danish and we are Vikings so we are also used to really bad weather. We were riding through some big puddles and it was very wet but these are also good conditions. And we had some tea to keep us warm!”

“I was down at Gullane for the Scottish Women’s Open yesterday and it was absolutely gorgeous,” said Paul Bush of Event Scotland. “Then you look at the amount of standing water on the course today. I don’t think it just a Scottish problem, you look all over the world now, and climate has an impact on events. Today I guess is just terribly disappointing for Zeus, the company who have the vision to put this on, but safety for the riders have to come first. Cycling has obviously had some very tragic accidents recently so they have made the right decision and we will be back in the morning for Stage Two.”