International competition is back
Published 11:29 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2022
The Carter County Omnium returns for the fifteenth year on June 4 and 5. The three races cover Carter and Unicoi Counties winding through beautiful and challenging terrain. The Carter County Roan Groan, with its mountain top finish, the Ballad Health Time Trial with its climb, and the Carter County Bank Criterium in downtown Elizabethton, provides a unique weekend of bicycle racing.
The events will bring a total of about 700 people to our area.
Stephen Bassett, riding for Rally Racing, winner of the pro men’s Omnium in 2020 and 2021, will not be able to defend his title this year, due to his European racing schedule.
Bassett said the “Roan Groan is without a doubt Tennessee’s most iconic course. It’s always a pleasure to race up Roan Mountain. Great races are hard to come by these days and the Carter County Omnium has held its place as one of the best races in the country.”
Mitchell Hopkins is returning to defend his Masters 40+ win of last year. He said “Carter County Omnium has stood the test of time with great organization and the ability to change venues when necessary. Still, one of the best race weekends for amateurs there is. It’s always fun to have a proper mountain top finish”.
In the 2021 Omnium, there were 338 racers from 25 states. The majority of them were here for the first time.
Early registration is trending to be about the same this year, though there are some international registrants again who were absent during COVID-19.
Devraj Grewal riding for Oliver’s Racing is from Sidney, Australia. He raced in the National championships Australia in January and the Oceania Continental Championships in April. Before Covid-19 there were a few pro racers from Colombia, Italy, Great Britain, and New Zealand over the years.
The Carter County Roan Groan for the Pro 1 /2 category is unique in the USA. The race from Elizabethton Cat Island Park to Carver’s Gap uses 80 miles of roads in Carter and Unicoi Counties.
They climb a total of 9,747 ft, finishing with a 7.5-mile category 1 climb of 2,584 ft.
In 2021, Bassett averaged 23 mph and still had to sprint on the top of the mountain for the win against five other racers. This course is similar to stage 17 of this year’s Tour de France in the Pyrenees.
Stage 17 is 81 miles long climbing a total of 10,000+ ft and finishes with a 5-mile 2,000 ft climb. Winners in the past go on, like Bassett, to race for pro teams in Europe.
This level of racing is made possible by sponsors providing the $12,000+ cash prizes. They are Tour Carter County, Ballad Health, Carter County Bank, Edward Jones, Nor-Well, Carter County Parks and Recreation, Holiday Inn, and Food City.