ROANOKE, Va. – Expect hundreds, perhaps even more than a thousand people, in the Roanoke Valley to welcome a national cycling championship race soon.
Around 700 athletes are expected to ride through Roanoke Valley to compete for national titles in cycling from June 29 to July 2.
All junior athletes from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24 team are included and will race to the finish.
The women’s cycling team officially made the Star City their home in January to train for the 2024 Olympics.
“We’ve not had those types of events in the Roanoke area and Botetourt County ever, really,” said Richard Bailey, chairman of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors. “Having and hosting a national championship in any sport is a big deal. But especially cycling. Something kind of new to us and growing.”
With hundreds of spectators expected to crowd the streets, the Star City is already planning to handle the traffic.
A list of roads that will be impacted by the race are already posted to advise residents.
The hope is to redirect the traffic to local shops and restaurants.
“Given where we’ve come through and covid and where we are, like many cities, trying to get back on their feet, this is a shot in the arm,” Roanoke City Mayor Sherman Lea said.
Since cycling is booming in the region, Roanoke College is launching its first competitive cycling team.
“More students would come to the college and come to the region,” Roanoke College Dean of Students Tom Rambo said. “We would offer more to our students now who are interested in cycling.”
Roanoke College graduate Shelley Olds will help run the new program. She competed in the 2012 London Olympics and is training the Twenty24 Team.
With Olds’s help, Roanoke College hopes to discover another champion.
“And maybe we can produce another Olympic athlete,” Rambo said.
The race is in need of volunteers and Visit VBR Vice President of Sales and Marketing Debora Wright said they are offering a $250 gift card in a drawing to the first 100 people who sign up.
Also, any organizations that have ten or more people volunteer will receive $200.
If you want to help out, you must register.