Cyclists invade Roane for racing event

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By Cindy Simpson

Roane County will play host to a cycling event April 12-13 that will draw hundreds of participants.

Harriman City Councilman Chris Ahler, a co-director and a retired competitive cyclist, is working with Tim Tidwell, a TVA economic development specialist and an avid cyclist, on the Roane County Omnium.

They expect between 200 and 250 racers to attend the three-race series.

Ahler said they wanted something that would showcase much of the county’s finest attractions

Pam May sent Tidwell to Ahler when he came to her with a proposal for the event.

“This is the first big race of the season on the Tennessee racing calendar,” Ahler said. “They race in a point series, and to have three races in one weekend — that is going to attract a ton of racers.”

The first event, a time trial, starts at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Harriman Saturday morning. Ahler said director Danice Turpin has agreed to have the facility open and available to the racers.

“It establishes the race leader for the whole weekend. So it is just a race against the clock over about a 4-1/2 mile course,” Ahler said.

The most spectator-friendly event, the criterium, is on a closed course over about 30 minutes to an hour.

“The streets of downtown Rockwood are going to be cut off, and it is going to be a completely closed course with no traffic allowed on it at all,” Ahler said.

It begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, and with various categories, should run into the evening.

“It is a very fast race. There are lots of lead changes,” Ahler said. “We hope there won’t be many crashes. We try to avoid that, but in this type of event where it is so fast there are often times crashes.”

The final race will be Sunday morning in Kingston.

“It will be about a 25-mile loop winding through the countryside South of the River,” Ahler said.

Ahler said the communities have been wonderful in helping with the coordination.

Ahler wants to see this race grow to become one of the biggest for Tennessee.

“We want this to be the kickoff race of the season that everybody is excited about,” Ahler said.