Olympic mountain biker Bart Brentjens led a party of nearly 50 Dutch cyclists on a package holiday to North East England.
The riders checked out the trails at Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland and Hamsterley Forest in County Durham.
They also had a masterclass from Brentjens, gold medallist for Holland at the 1996 Atlanta games.
They were visiting on the the first ever – and oversubscribed – tailor-made biking holiday to the region.
The trip was organised by ferry company DFDS and regional development agency One North East, and supported by Newcastle-based cycle tour organisers Saddle Skedaddle.
Helen McLoughlin, international marketing manager at One North East, said: “Mountain biking is an increasingly popular sport and as Bart’s visit shows, North East England is attracting riders from across Europe.
“The region’s routes, including the challenging Deadwater Fell at Kielder Water & Forest Park, will put even the best bikers to the test and it goes without saying that the views across Northumberland are some of the most attractive in the country.”
With further off-road routes set to open this summer, scores more European bikers are expected to cross the North Sea to hit the region’s trails between now and October.
The new routes being developed at Kielder Water & Forest Park – all of which will open this year – are part of a £900,000 investment. The Lakeside Way will also be fully opened, allowing bikers to circumnavigate the 27-mile shoreline of Kielder Water.
Alex MacLennan, recreation, tourism and communities manager with the Forestry Commission, said: “With a strong euro, the region has never been more attractive to European visitors, but the real draw is the fabulous new biking facilities.
“Many bike tourists already visit under their own steam, but having a well marketed vacation package will do wonders for the region’s profile and boost the local economy – good news at a crucial time for businesses.”