THE countdown to this year’s Tour de France began in Haydon Bridge on Saturday, when 220 cyclists from across the UK descended on the village.

Entries for the seventh annual Haydon Hundred were up by 45 on 2018, and weather conditions were favourable for the most part.

Organisers said the challenging event, which offered participants a choice of three differing routes starting and finishing in Haydon Bridge, was a great success.

Haydon Hundred founder Mark I’Anson said: “We were very pleased with the number of entrants. There was a lot of demand for places and it’s great that our event is so popular.

“I’m pleased to say that it passed without incident, all but one of the participants completed their respective routes, and there were no injuries.

“There was a lot of positive comments about the Haydon Hundred, the scenic routes, and about Haydon Bridge and the other communities involved. People made a point of saying how well the day went.”

The one participant who didn’t manage to complete the course was Ovington’s Cliff Thornton, who endured a broken gear cable at Haltwhistle, and had to bring his bike back to base at Haydon Bridge by train.

“It’s just one of those things,” said Cliff. “It’s frustrating when something like this happens, especially when you’re involved with such a great local cycling event.”

Local volunteers were key to the success of the event. They manned the Bridge Community Library, on Church Street, where cyclists started and finished the race, and also looked after feeding stations along the way.

The 60km challenge route offered an anti-clockwise trip around Newbrough, Haltwhistle, Whitfield, and back to Haydon Bridge. The 100k classic route was similar, but included an additional 40km section via Alston, Nenthead and Allendale.

The more advanced skyrider route ventured into Teesdale and Weardale, before rejoining the classic route after Nenthead.

A cycle sportive event, the Haydon Hundred was launched back in 2013 to encourage more people to visit Haydon Bridge and surrounding communities. For results visit