A GRANDFATHER died while attempting to cycle down a notoriously challenging section of the Tour de France route in the Yorkshire Dales, an inquest heard.

The hearing in Northallerton was told Patrick McDonough, of Acklam, Middlesbrough may have been attempting to avoid riding into an animal that had walked onto the road over the 526m summit Buttertubs Pass, near Hawes.

Traffic Constable Steve Kirkbright said the 59-year-old had been descending from the peak at about 34mph and a mark from Mr McDonagh's shoe on the recently resurfaced road suggested he had tried to make an emergency stop before coming off his bike on Sunday, October 4.

TC Kirkbright said no other vehicles or bikes were involved and that Mr McDonagh had been wearing a helmet and fluorescent yellow t-shirt. Road conditions had been good.

He said he remained uncertain about what had caused Mr McDonagh to brake suddenly, but believed it may have been a dog, hare or sheep.

Mr McDonagh, an engineer who worked at Air Products at Seal Sands, was found conscious and lying in the road about 200 metres from the summit at about 11.40am by a motorist.

He was taken to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, where he died the following night from the head injuries he had sustained.

Coroner Jonathan Heath concluded it had been an accident.

The incident follows a number of cyclists crashing on the pass with a maximum gradient of 20 per cent, including one in 2014 when a rider was catapulted over a crash barrier at the top of the summit, landing just short of a 100ft drop.

The incident prompted a warning to the unprecedented numbers of cyclists tracing the Tour de France route through the Yorkshire Dales to take extra care.