Thousands line streets to welcome Tour of Britain to Northumberland

Northumberland County Council civic head, Anthony Murray, and rising star Roisin Lally start the race at Kielder.
Northumberland County Council civic head, Anthony Murray, and rising star Roisin Lally start the race at Kielder.

Northumberland took centre stage today as the Tour of Britain rolled through the county giving residents the opportunity to see some of the world's top teams and riders competing on their doorstep.

The riders taking part in the UK's premier cycle race passed through 28 communities, covering more than 200km, starting at Kielder and culminating in an exciting finish in Blyth.

Kielder Water & Forest Park was filled with an electric atmosphere from early morning, with cycling fans coming along to get up close to the riders before the start of Stage 2 of the race which is being televised live in 120 countries. Northumberland County Council's civic head, Coun Anthony Murray, and young future star of cycling, Roisin Lally, from Hexham, waved the Northumberland flag to set the riders away.

Communities joined in the spirit of the occasion by decorating the route in the and yellow colours of the Northumberland flag while thousands of people turned out to welcome and cheer on the cyclists. A series of community events were held in towns along the route focusing on all things pedal-powered to provide residents of all ages with the perfect opportunity to have a go at cycling.

Northumberland County Council has worked closely with organisers Sweetspot, start sponsors Northumbrian Water and finish sponsors Blyth Town Council to bring the race back to the county, following its last visit in 2015.

Leader of Northumberland County Council, Coun Peter Jackson, said: "It has been a fantastic day for the county. We are blessed in Northumberland with amazing natural scenery and wonderful people and it is great that we got to show this off to the competitors and all those who watched the race unfold on television.

"In 2015, the Tour of Britain gave a real boost to the local economy - to the tune of £2.2m - and we're confident this year's stage, which was entirely in the county, will be great news for businesses in Northumberland and our ever-increasing tourism industry.

"It was great to see so many spectators lining the route cheering the riders on and so many communities getting behind the event and decorating their towns and villages . I'd like to thank the organisers of the Tour of Britain, the emergency services and our council staff who all worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure the event ran smoothly and safely."

Jackie Sewell, owner of Tomlinson’s cafe and bunkhouse in Rothbury, helped to co-ordinate efforts to decorate the town. She said: "The Tour of Britain coming through Rothbury created an amazing atmosphere. It is such an iconic event and fantastic sporting spectacle and we are so proud to have been a part of it."