THE Tour of Britain's journey through the Cotswolds has been hailed as an "excellent showcase for promoting visits to the Cotswolds."

Organisers of the OVO Tour of Britain cycle race and several participants have thanked local residents and visitors for creating such a special atmosphere during Stage 7 of the event on Saturday September 9.

Despite a mixture of sunshine and showers, large crowds turned up to greet the riders, and also stayed to enjoy the festival atmosphere generated by local communities and traders.

Live TV coverage captured the excitement of the occasion and the thrills and spills of the race, including several Sprint and King of the Mountain sections, culminating in a heart-stopping finale at the finish line in Cheltenham as Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen won by a whisker.

Viewers in the UK and abroad were treated to wonderful scenery as the riders passed through Charlbury, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Milton-under-Wychwood, Upper Rissington, Little Rissington, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Toddington, Gretton, Winchcombe and Cleeve Hill before finally arriving in Cheltenham.

Race director Mick Bennett said: "We would like to thank all of the towns, villages and communities throughout the Cotswolds for their support, which was superb despite the adverse weather on the day.

"The Cotswolds provided an amazing backdrop to the race and we look forward to building on the success of the event and returning in the future.”

Cotswolds Tourism worked closely with the BIKE Channel Canyon team to promote the event locally, and their lead cyclist Witney-based Dexter Gardias enthused about the atmosphere on the day: "This has been the first Tour of Britain for me and the team and we have all been very impressed. "It’s a great race - very competitive and really well organised with late nights and early starts. As expected, the last 40 km of Stage 7 was really hard and the excitement was tangible with the crowds cheering us on.”

His teammate, and Cotswold resident, James Lowsley-Williams was disqualified during an earlier stage but was a keen spectator on Saturday: "I knew that this would be a very exciting stage, with some big crowds along the route.

"I was in Cheltenham at the finish and it was great fun seeing the race transiting the Cotswolds on the big screen and seeing the close finish.”

Cllr Chris Hancock, cabinet member for enterprise and partnerships at Cotswold District Council, was equally impressed: "Just as we hoped, this race proved to be an excellent showcase for promoting visits to the Cotswolds.

"I would like to thank everyone who got behind this event, including local traders, community organisers, the public and the vintage cyclists from the Great British Bike Build who provided memorable warm-up events in several locations.

"There was a real buzz as the riders sped along the route, cheered on by such large crowds.

“The local countryside and the attractive villages looked a treat on the TV, thanks in part to a comprehensive cleansing programme carried out by the Council’s environmental services provider Ubico Ltd, and I am very grateful to them for their extra efforts.”