A MAGNIFICENT performance by Levens cyclist James Knox saw him to a superb 11th placed finish in the Vuelta a España.

The gruelling race, which with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia forms the ‘Grand Tour’ which is the pinnacle of the sport, features a world class field.

And as the 23-year-old’s acknowledged plaudits across the cycling world, he offered thanks to the many supporters from his home patch in South Lakeland who had sent messages of support during the three week event.

“I got a huge amount of support from people back home,” he said.

“I know a lot of people were following me and it was really appreciated.”

And that finishing position for Knox, who rides for the Deceuninck-Quickstep team, could have been even better only for a dramatic crash on the penultimate stage, just a day before the event's finale in Madrid in front of thousands of fans.

He had just broken into the top 10 in general race classification with two stages to go, but the crash saw him lose 11 minutes and with little chance to make up that time, he finished agonisingly just outside that top ten.

Knox said the crash was a big blow but he said the spirit within the Deceuninck-Quickstep camp once again showed through and his team mates helped him to recover and drive on for the line on that penultimate stage.

He said his colleagues drove him on with encouragement as he struggled to finish the stage and he said in hos view the comradeship and camaraderie within the team was the best if any team in the race.

Knox was a well known and popular figure in the South Lakeland area as a youngster when he was also a talented cross country athlete and fell runner who represented the Helm Hill club.

He first caught the eye of the cycling world when he won the National Hill Climb Championships.

Knox’s career has been on a steep upward curve since 2017 and he turned professional and joined the World Tour in the 2018 season.

In May, he won a place in the Giro d’Italia and was subsequently named as one of just three UK riders in the start list for the Vuelta a España.

And his stunning effort in the latter event has taken his career to new levels.

“I was not expecting to do so well at the start of the race,” he said.

“I really feel to be up there to perform at this level and be up there with these guys and finish in a really respectable position, I’ve got a lot to be proud of.”

Knox still has a busy schedule ahead of him and also said he hopes to fit in a holiday before intensive training for next season begins in November.

Another local cyclist, Ben Granger, has also been on form this week as he won Sunday’s 63-mile Bob Swailes Memorial Road Race.

The Wheelbase team rider won the annual Kent Valley Road Club event on the Old Hutton Circuit after proving to be the strongest in a four-man breakaway from the 60 strong field of 2nd/3rd and 4th category riders.