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Weekend edition June 16, 2023 | Shannon Smith

USA Cycling comes to Knoxville one last time

It probably won't be the last time ever, but it's the last time for now, ending a seven-year stretch of Knoxville hosting the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships.

Some of the country’s most elite road cyclists are headed to Knoxville, and it will be your last chance to see them in action for the foreseeable future.

Knoxville will once again host the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships in both Oak Ridge and Knoxville, with events running from June 22-25. You can watch the time trials in Oak Ridge, criterium races in downtown Knoxville, and road races in several parts of the Scruffy City, all for free.

But after a seven-year partnership with USA Cycling, the 2023 event will be the last, at least for now. Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas explained why when we spoke with her earlier this spring.

“That’s a long run. It’s a bittersweet scenario that it’s their last year because they feel like family now, but you can’t really hang on to an event like that indefinitely because it gets boring for the athletes,” said Bumpas. “These are Olympians. You can only ride in a circle on the same course for so many years and be happy about it. So it’s time to let them go to a new destination for a few years and then welcome them back after that.”

USA Cycling has not announced where it will hold this race event next year, but Bumpas said Knoxville will be happy to welcome them back. Cycling’s exit coincides with other exciting things happening in the Knoxville sports world. Bumpas said though bittersweet, this change is happening at a good time.

“It kind of coincides perfectly for us because by building the new stadium that’s going to host the Knoxville Smokies, it was really tightening our road race up. It impacted it last year, we’ll run the same shortened course this year,” she said.

Groundbreaking on that stadium happened earlier this week, and baseball is expected to return to Knoxville in 2025.

With the loss of Olympic cyclists, Knoxville will gain Olympic divers. The U.S. diving team trials for the 2024 Olympics will be held in Knoxville at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee. Those trials will be held in 2024 and determine the U.S. team for the Paris Olympic Games.

So while USA Cycling will be missed, Bumpas is excited about what could come in its place. “We can open up that date range for a new event. Knoxville is always going to be bike-friendly, it’s always going to be a pillar of what we do.”

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