As Cumbria gears up for next week’s Tour of Britain [10 September] it’s a chance for people to rediscover the county’s world-class landscape as they look out for some of the top names in cycling – many of them fresh from the Tokyo Olympics.
The star studded line-up for this year’s race includes home favourite Mark Cavendish who has won the most stages in modern Tour of Britain history; Tokyo 2020 medallists Wout van Aert, Ethan Hayter and Rohan Dennis; and reigning UCI road world champion Julian Alaphilippe. Alaphilippe will be easily recognisable to spectators owing to the historic rainbow jersey he’s entitled to wear.
Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, comments “What makes this year particularly special for viewers and visitors watching Stage 6 of the cycle race is they will be treated to the dramatic contrasts of the historic border city of Carlisle and Eden, an area that boasts the spectacular lake and mountains of Ullswater, Penrith and the moorlands of the North Pennines. Cumbria is the natural home of outdoor adventure, and we know that, now more than ever, wide open spaces are essential for people’s physical and mental wellbeing.”
As well as Carlisle, which hosts the start for the fifth time, there are plenty of places along the route to watch the race as it passes through the vibrant communities in Ullswater, Pooley Bridge, Unthank, Langwathby, Melmerby, Alston and Nenthead before heading into County Durham and on to Gateshead.
Blink and you miss them fast sprints can be enjoyed at Motherby roughly around 11.43am and in Penrith at approximately 12.20pm. If you want to see sinew busting prowess and the riders racing at slightly slower pace, choose one of the King of the Mountain climbs at Hartside at 12.50pm (or Killhope Cross at 1.13pm on the border between the Pennines and County Durham).
“It’s fantastic to have the Tour of Britain return once again in Cumbria” says keen cyclist and Vice Chair of Cumbria Tourism, Dan Visser. “The route showcases many hidden gems of our fascinating county. Cumbria and the Lake District were made for cycling and this year the Tour traces parts of the UK’s most popular challenge cycle route the Sea to Sea (C2C) from Whitehaven to Newcastle.
“For tourism businesses in the area, it’s a chance to demonstrate their cycling friendly credentials, providing more reasons for visitors to return and to stay longer. In 2019 when this major event came to the county, Cumbria saw a financial boost of more than £1.5million and we would hope it will provide another much- needed boost for our economy this year.”
There will be traffic management systems in place on the day, ensure you leave plenty of time to reach your chosen destination and check the Tour spectator guides to plan your visit to the race. Cycling enthusiasts can now prepare for the event by downloading the 2021 Tour of Britain Manual for free on the official website.
Gill Haigh adds, “Sustainable travel is one of our key priorities, both within the Lake District National Park and wider county and we look forward to visitors being inspired by the Tour to enjoy days out on bike, boat, bus and train.
“We anticipate this event will not only bring economic benefits to the local communities along the route but to the whole region; supporting jobs, boosting our visitor economy, and highlighting to people what a remarkable and memorable place Cumbria is to rediscover.”
If you’re feeling inspired by the Tour to get out on a bike, don’t miss the Solway Coast Cycling Festival on Saturday 11 September. This brand-new event takes place the day after the Tour on the beautiful Silloth Green from 10am to 4pm. It’s perfect for all ages and levels, from beginner to club cyclists. There will be free 30-minute bike check & fix sessions, kids cycling skills, guided cycle rides and way-marked routes and much more.