TOURISM bosses and councillors have expressed their delight at the return of the Tour of Britain - with hopes the event will inspire the next generation.

Organisers of the national cycle ride revealed earlier in the week that the tour would return to the county later this year, building on last year’s “tremendous” success.

Details of the exact route have been kept firmly under wraps, but officials have got their fingers crossed that the ride will make its way through Carlisle, Penrith, and Workington.

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, told The Cumberland News: “The Tour of Britain, the UK’s largest professional cycle race, is always a highlight of Cumbria’s sporting calendar and to host the event for a third year in a row is truly fantastic news.

“We look forward to welcoming the athletes, supporters and international media to the county later this year.

“Cumbria is now the joint most visited location for the tour and with the county boasting such a range of challenges, climbs and technical descents, not forgetting stunning scenery, we’re sure that wherever the route passes through will showcase our appeal far and wide.

“Cycle tourism is an important part of our visitor economy, not only during major events such as the Tour of Britain and the Fred Whitton, but all throughout the year.

“Many businesses already cater to this market and others can become much more welcoming by making just a few simple changes.

“With the eyes of the cycling world about to fall on Cumbria there are some real opportunities available to extend our appeal as the place to be for riders of all abilities.”

It is also anticipated that the sight of dozens of riders will encourage the next generation get on their bikes, and become the county’s next cycling superstar.

Richard Johnston, senior manager of operations at Active Cumbria added: “We’re delighted to hear that the Tour of Britain is coming back to Cumbria, in previous years it has inspired a lot of school and community activity encouraging people of all ages to get active, and on their bikes, and we hope it’ll do the same this year.”

Councillor Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for public health, has highlighted the benefits of people getting out on their bikes.

She said: “Cycling regularly has a number of health benefits - it can help boost your mood, keep you fit and help reduce the risk of chronic

illnesses such as heart disease.”

This September will be the tour’s tenth visit to Cumbria, making it jointly the most-visited county by the modern Tour of Britain.

Further details about the locations and exact route of this year’s stage will be announced in the spring.