IT has been declared the best Ironman yet.

More than 2,000 athletes took part in the gruelling triathlon, cheered on by thousands of people along the route.

The event started at 6am at Pennington Flash, where competitors swam 2.4 miles in open water swim, before cycling 112 miles through the Lancashire countryside and finally completing a marathon of 26.2 miles.

The finish line at Bolton’s Victoria Square was lined with supporters, who watched as France’s Cyril Viennot clinched victory.

Kevin Stewart, managing director of Ironman UK, said: ““If the support from the crowd is anything to go by then this could be the best Ironman yet.

“We have made changes to the course from last year which we think will have helped but we will have to wait to hear back from the athletes.

“This event has grown and become one of the biggest in Europe.”

Craig Alexander, former world champion triathlete, added: “I think it always helps when there is a finish like this in a town centre with a big crowd on the sidelines.

“The crowd help you a lot when you are going through a really hard patch in a race.”

Organisers have already announced that next year’s Ironman UK will remain in the area and an estimated 2,500 places are currently on offer.