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.

Victoria Square was packed with supporters, who watched as France’s Cyril Viennot clinched victory.

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, which finished in Victoria Square.

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 in Bolton 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.”

Cllr Nick Peel, executive member, said: “It is very important for Bolton to have it.

“It is worth about £2.5 million to the local economy which is great for businesses across the town.”

Organisers have already announced that next year’s Ironman UK will remain in Bolton.

There will be an estimated 2,500 places and they will be on offer from 9am on Monday morning.