THE Tour of Britain is coming to the Lake District, taking in the heart of the national park for the first time, it was revealed this evening.
The 225km ride from Carlisle to Kendal will be the tour's longest ever stage, passing through some of Britain's most spectacular landscape.
The world’s top teams and riders will arrive in Cumbria for stage two of the 10th anniversary tour on Monday, September 16.
The race will pass through Cockermouth, Workington and Whitehaven before ascending the formidable Honister Pass and taking in Keswick, Ambleside and Coniston.
It will finish with a gruelling uphill sprint of Beast Banks in Kendal, which was last used as a finishing stage by the tour in 2007.
Tourism experts predict that hosting the stage could boost Cumbria's economy by between £3 million and £4 million.
Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for economic development, said: "Holding a tour stage exclusively within England's most beautiful county will help put Cumbria on the map internationally and allow us to exploit the massive national interest in cycling right now.
"As well as the huge economic benefits, there's also the lasting environmental and health legacy from encouraging more people to cycle.
"The county council and local partners are investing in new cycleways and sustainable transport on an unprecedented level. The Tour of Britain looks to be the highpoint in a Summer of Cycling in Cumbria for 2013."
Lake District National Park Authority chief executive Richard Leafe said: “We’re delighted that this famous sporting event is going through the Lake District for the first time. And that the national park will be shown at its best to a truly worldwide audience.
“Following on from the success of the 2012 Olympics, we hope that the Tour of Britain race through this spectacular landscape will continue to inspire people to enjoy cycling."
South Lakeland District Council deputy leader, Clare Feeney-Johnson, said: “South Lakeland District Council is proud to once again host this internationally-recognised event.
“This will give us the opportunity to showcase to the world the beautiful and spectacular area we live and work in.
“Following on from Kendal’s recognition as the number two best place in the country to live, the tour will boost the local economy and show potential investors what we have to offer.”
Carlisle and Kendal have both hosted The Tour of Britain on two previous occasions – the former with stage starts in 2005 and 2012, and the latter with a finish in 2007 and a start in 2011.
The Tour of Britain also passed through Kendal on last year’s Stage Four from Carlisle to Blackpool.
Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s head of policy and research, said: “Hosting a full leg of The Tour Of Britain in Cumbria provides us with an excellent opportunity to showcase our beautiful county, the UK’s Adventure Capital, both within the UK and Internationally.
“As a cycling destination, we have so much to offer, after all Cumbria was made for cycling. There is truly something for everybody, with country lanes, quiet back roads and lots of National Cycle Network routes to explore, as well as more challenging off road routes over high fells and mountains.
"The Tour of Britain will also bring significant economic benefits to the county. To have cycling stars from around the world in our county for a full stage will benefit the destination both in terms of overnight accommodation provision for the participating teams and support staff but also in terms of the profiling of the route and the start and finish locations.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron added: "This is fantastic news. The Tour of Britain will bring some of the world's best cyclists through our area.
"Kendal and South Lakeland will be firmly in the spotlight as they play host to this extremely prestigious event.
"Being able to bring another event to South Cumbria shows yet again that we are the rural cultural hub of the UK.
"With events like these we really are punching above our weight."