The world’s leading cyclists competing in two stages of the Aviva Tour of Britain race in Cumbria next week are to be waved off at the start and greeted at the finish line by cycling-inspired designs produced by two Cumbrian school pupils.

The winning designs for the starting flag for Stage Three (Cockermouth – Kelso on 8 September) and stage winner’s jersey for Stage Five (Prudhoe – Hartside on 10 September) were unveiled today at Aira Force jetty – which will be one of the scenic high points of next week’s race.

The two winners were plucked from 1,835 entries in an Aviva Tour of Britain schools competition run by Active Cumbria and sponsored by M-Sport and United Utilities. The number of design entries surpassed all expectations and was even more than the 1,600 entrants for a similar competition run for the 2013 Tour of Britain in Cumbria.

""Jersey design winner Katie Rouse, who is aged 9 and attends Stainton School near Penrith, was on the banks of Ullswater along with jersey sponsors United Utilities to see her design turned into the actual shirt which will be presented to the winner of Stage Five at the summit finish at Hartside. Her design is shaped around the Cumbria flag on the front and the back features a cyclist going up a steep mountain. Katie gets to keep her own replica of the jersey, along with a prize donated by United Utilities and will be a VIP guest with her family at Hartside.

Katie said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got home and Dad told me I’d won the competition. I’d just got in from dance class, so after jumping up and down with excitement I then did a celebration dance in the living room! I’m really looking forward to the race and seeing my jersey being given to the winner.”

The winner of the official starting flag for Cockermouth was 10-year old Sophie Glassford from Yanwath school near Penrith. Sophie and her family will be given VIP treatment on the day of the race and also gets to keep a replica of her winning flag design – which shows bike riders passing sheep-filled fells. Flag sponsors M-Sport will also be giving Sophie and her family a treat, with a visit to their Cockermouth headquarters and a trip in a rally car. An extra-large replica of her winning design will also be draped on the shoulders of Cockermouth’s landmark Mayo statue ahead of the race next week.

Sophie said: “I was really surprised and happy when I heard I had won. I tried to capture in one picture what the countryside in Cumbria means to people, but never thought I’d win. I didn’t even think I was the best at drawing in my class! I’m looking forward to putting the flag up in my bedroom – if there’s room.”

Both M-Sport and United Utilites say backing the Cumbrian stages of the UK’s largest free sporting event is an important symbol of their support for the local community, as they recognise the economic and longer-term benefits the Aviva Tour of Britain brings to the county.

John Hilton, Project Director from United Utilities, said:

“We are delighted by how much interest and enthusiasm the design competition generated. Picking a winner was a really tough job. The excitement around the race is really building now and communities on the route are getting involved at all levels. The Lake District supplies around a third of the water for the whole North West, and therefore it’s important to recognise that contribution by supporting great events such as the Tour of Britain.”

Malcolm Wilson, Former World Championship rally driver and owner of Cockermouth-based automotive engineering business M-Sport, said:

“We’re proud to be involved in this event and Cumbria should be proud of the way it’s getting behind the Tour of Britain – as show by the hundreds of young people entering this great competition. All of the entrants should be congratulated for having a go, but we felt Sophie’s flag captured Cumbria perfectly.”

Cllr Clare Feeney-Johnson, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for schools, said:

“Nearly two thousand children taking part in this competition is a fantastic result and real evidence that holding the Tour of Britain in Cumbria touches people of all ages. I hope that plenty of young people are inspired to cycle themselves as a result of learning more about the Tour and the benefits of cycling.”

Find out more about Stage Three, which starts from Cockermouth in Cumbria in here, and Stage Five, which finishes at the summit of the Hartside climb in Cumbria here.

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