Thousands lined roads across Cumbria to witness what has been hailed the most thrilling stage so far of the 2019 Tour of Britain.

Stage four of the race saw some of the world’s top cyclists tackle a gruelling 173km course from Gateshead, roaring their way across the Pennines and taking in Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Lonsdale and Sedbergh before the amazing climax in Kendal.

Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), aged 24, blasted his way up the 500m climb at Beat Banks to cross the finish line three seconds ahead of nearest competitor, Jasper de Buyst – taking both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

Work will now begin on counting the economic impact of the race on the county, and hopes will be high that it exceeds the £5 million the Tour of Britain helped generate when Kendal last hosted the race in 2016 – and be closer to the £11m generated when Cumbria hosted two stages in last year’s competition.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce had revised and reissued its hugely popular online toolkit to help businesses benefit from the Tour of Britain – containing specific advice for retailers, food operators and accommodation providers.

And while the financial figures will be some way from being compiled, there is no question of the significant profile the race has brought to the county, with live coverage beamed to viewers of ITV4 and many more set to watch the highlights programme aired on Tuesday evening.

The stage had been billed at the 2019 Tour of Britain’s 'Queens Stage’ – a term for the hardest, most demanding stage of a multi-stage cycling race.

And the finale in Kendal certainly got the crowds going as van der Poel, the reigning world and European UCI cyclo-cross champion and recently crowed European mountain bike championships, showed his prowess on the road with an exhilarating win.

Having caught three breakaway riders towards the bottom of Beast Banks, he powered his way past, leaving the competition – including the race leader Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) – for dust.

Speaking after the race, the rider tipped to be a future winner of the Tour de France, 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.”

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