THOUSANDS of visitors and local residents from across the county and beyond descended on the towns and villages of Cumbria to watch the excitement and drama of the Tour of Britain unfold.

Covering 173 km riders started stage four of the tour from Gateshead, Newcastle, and roared their way across County Durham to then pass through Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Lonsdale and Sedbergh, to finish in the heart of Kendal.

It is the second consecutive year Cumbria has been chosen to co-host the race but this years stage four, which is sponsored by OVO Energy, last took that route in 2016, when more than 10,000 spectators packed the town to see a dramatic finish up the steep town centre route.

The town holds its place in the Tour of Britain racing history having hosted the race previously in 2007, 2013 and 2016.

In today's stage Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), aged 24, was crowned the winner as he moved into the lead and attacked the 500m climb atop of the town's famed Beast Banks and crossed the finish line just three seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Jasper de Buyst.

The stage winner said: "Attacking early was a bit of a gamble because I didn’t really know where the finish line was. I got a bit bumped in yesterday at the finish and I didn’t want it to happen then again today, so I just went full gas with 300 metres to go.

“It was actually a bit far but I immediately had a gap. With 100 metres to go the road got a bit easier so it was big enough to keep that gap until the finish line.

“It’s really nice to win this stage; it was a really, really hard stage, a lot of climbing and I think my team rode it perfectly. We controlled the race together with the team of Matteo Trentin [Mitchelton-SCOTT] and then at the end I think Otto Vergaerde did an amazing job to get the leaders back just in time for me to do my sprint.”

Eden rider Mark Donovan, gained a couple of places in Tuesday's stage and finished in 29th position.