Cumbria is set to take centre stage as the world’s top cyclists arrive for the Tour of Britain.

The route for the competition remains the same as last year, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. The tournament, which starts in Penzance and ends in Aberdeen, will see its ninth stage commence in Carlisle next Friday (10th). The route goes along the Lakes, passing through communities in Ullswater, Pooley Bridge, Unthank, Langwathby, Melmerby, Alston and Nenthead before heading into County Durham and finishing for the day at Gateshead.

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.”

Household name Mark Cavendish is just one of the many stars of the sport who will be challenging for the prize pot of over £80,000. The Isle of Man-based cyclist 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 will also be taking part in the race. Alaphilippe will be easily recognisable to spectators owing to the historic rainbow jersey he’s entitled to wear.

Some of the highlights of the course next Friday include the blink and you miss them fast sprints that 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). Spectators are encouraged to watch the race at any point along the route, providing they do so safely. This includes not impeding the competitors in any way, including entering the road as they approach and pass.

“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.”

The Tour has received praise over the last couple of years for raising the prize money for the women identical to the men.

Cycling events don’t stop next weekend, as Cumbrian families can enjoy 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 and guided cycle rides.