The Tour of Britain has helped put Northumberland on the map, it has been claimed, after a stunning day of cycling competition in the county.
Some of the world’s greatest riders passed through the likes of Wooler, Alnwick, Warkworth, Amble and Cresswell, before ending Stage Four in Blyth this afternoon.
More than 10,000 schoolchildren joined thousands of residents and visitors to line the route. Towns and villages across the county were proudly decorated in Northumberland colours to mark the event, with hundreds of red and yellow bikes lining parts of the route. Houses, shops and businesses added to the colourful celebration with flowers, bunting and their own cycling art.
Action from today’s event was broadcast on ITV4 and images of the riders, as well as the beauty and diverstiy of the county, were seen around the world.
Tomorrow, Stage Five will start from Prudhoe at 11am and travel through Hexham, Haydon Bridge and other Tyne Valley villages before it climbs up to Hadrian’s Wall, eventually leaving Northumberland when it enters Cumbria.
Both stages in Northumberland have been sponsored by Northumbrian Water and David Hall, head of leisure strategy and transformation at the company, believes the Tour will be a big boost to the county.
He said: “Today has been a very special day as we welcomed some of the world’s best cyclists to the region.
“We consider the beautiful Northumberland county as one of the best cycling counties in the UK and this event has given us a great chance to show it off, as well as helping to put Northumberland on the map.
“The community spirit has been fantastic, it’s been great to see everyone really getting involved in the excitement of the day and we’re thrilled to have helped to bring the Tour of Britain here and celebrate everything that’s great about the region.”
A total of 114 riders started Stage Four in Edinburgh this morning, for what is the second longest stage of the race
Leader of Northumberland County Council, Coun Grant Davey, said: “This has been the first of two fantastic days for Northumberland, with the greatest cyclists in the world racing though the county.
“It has been great to see so many schools taking part in cycling activities all through the day and we hope the Tour of Britain inspires a whole new generation of cycling enthusiasts, and maybe even the next Sir Bradley Wiggins.
“Our community groups, town councils, businesses, staff, shops, churches, and schools have all done a great job, joining in the fun and they are helping to turn this event into a county-wide celebration of sport. People who have seen the race today can’t fail to be impressed and inspired.”