CUMBRIA is to be the first county ever to host two full stages of British cycling’s premier road race this year.

Stages five and six of the Tour of Britain 2018 are to be held entirely within the county.

The Tour of Britain’s first-ever Team Time Trial stage 5, where pro riders race against the clock, will take place from Cockermouth to Whinlatter Visitor Centre on Thursday September 6.

The following day, the race will power through South Lakeland having set off from Barrow Town Hall. The 170km stage will continue into Allerdale and culminate with a summit finish on Whinlatter.

The last time the race was held here was in 2016, when it started in Carlisle and finished in Kendal after passing through the heart of the Lake District, including the packed crowds on ‘The Struggle’ to the summit of Kirkstone Pass. That stage attracted an estimated 175,000 spectators and generated more than £5 million for the local economy.

Cumbria County Council has agreed to host two stages of the 2018 race with the organisers SweetSpot and will be working with local delivery partners to make the most of the event.

“Nowhere else in the country has been given this honour before and it’s a real coup for Cumbria,” said Cllr Keith Little.

“This is a huge opportunity for us to make the most of this from a tourist and economic perspective, and also to get even more people interested and enthused about cycling.”

Race director Mick Bennett added: “Cumbria and the Lake District has provided some of the most memorable moments in recent Tour history and we are sure that we will see more of this across the 6 and 7 September.”