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05 September 2016

Tour of Britain stage shows county at its best

ToB Carlisle

An exciting and incident packed stage of the Tour of Britain through Cumbria was won yesterday in terrific style by Julien Vermote of Team Etixx.

An exciting breakaway by 15 riders shortly in to the race held their pace and kept the rest of the peloton at bay throughout. A strenuous climb up the famous Struggle to the top of Kirkstone Pass was one of many highlights throughout the race which passed through some of the worst affected areas of flooding following Storm Desmond in December 2015.

The victory capped off a day that showcased some of the best scenery Cumbria has to offer as the 126 riders raced along 117 miles of the county’s most scenic roads. The stage also demonstrated just how far the county has come in recovering from last winter’s devastating flooding.

The stage started in Carlisle amid jubilant scenes and crowds of spectators lining the route through the city. The riders were set off by Carlisle’s Mayor, Councillor Colin Stothard and 7 year old Chloe Brakenall, winner of the Active Cumbria Tour of Britain flag design competition.

More than 1,700 children entered the Active Cumbria competition to design the starting flag and winner’s jersey. This will help secure the ‘legacy benefits’ around the event, inspiring more people to cycle - which is good for the environment and health.

The undoubted highlight of the stage was the brutal climb of The Struggle to the top of Kirstone Pass. Spectators lined the road, several rows deep on the top sections, to urge the riders on.

In Kendal the crowds, estimated at over 10,000, were kept entertained in the Promo Zone as they waited for the riders to arrive for the final charge to the finish line on Beast Banks. As in Carlisle, the local community in Kendal were out in force to support the teams and riders, and showed them a typically warm Cumbrian welcome.

The total number of supporters who turned out will be estimated after the Tour has finished by analysing TV footage and helicopter shots, but it has so far been estimated that over 8,000 gathered at the starting point in Carlisle City Centre to wave the riders off this morning, with hundreds more lining the climb of The Struggle. Tens of thousands lined the rest of the route, with magnificent turnouts in Penrith, Cockermouth, Keswick and Ambleside.

The event was well organised and well policed. Some disruption was inevitable with the road closures, but the vast majority of people have been patient, understanding and supportive of the benefits the race brings.

The economic benefits will be made clearer towards the end of the year once an independent analysis has been done. In 2015 the net economic benefit was measured at £3,389,901.

Local sponsors of the stage were Cumbria County Council, United Utilities, University of Cumbria, Lake District National Park, Allerdale Borough Council, Eden District Council, Carlisle City Council and South Lakeland District Council.

Councillor David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:

“Yesterday was a fantastic day for the county. To think back to the damage caused in December the evidence was there for the world to see that Cumbria is absolutely back to its glorious best. The Tour of Britain is one of the highest profile sporting events in the country and I’m delighted it was back racing on Cumbrian soil.

"Previous years have shown the economic benefits of hosting the Tour and I’m sure this year will be no different given the huge numbers of spectators lining the stage. What a fantastic day! I really hope that this marvellous international event will inspire our young people to take up cycling, leading to a healthier life style and who knows, maybe some Cumbrian riders in years to come!”.
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An exciting and incident packed stage of the Tour of Britain through Cumbria was won yesterday in terrific style by Julien Vermote of Team Etixx.