The USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championship returns to Southwest Virginia this week.
The best amateur cyclists in the nation are testing their abilities in the Roanoke Valley. They will be riding in Roanoke County, Franklin County and the City of Roanoke.
Explore Park will host the first event on Wednesday, June 14 starting at 7 a.m. This is the individual time trial, known as the race against the clock. Riders will each ride solo to see how fast they can complete a course on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
These races will impact traffic. The Roanoke River Parkway will be closed, and the Blue Ridge Parkway will also be closed from Route 460 to Route 220, with detours in place. Residents should expect increased activity in the area until about 6 p.m.
Spectators are encouraged to attend the time trial race. The staging area is on the Roanoke River Parkway between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Explore Park.
Landon Howard, President of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, says, “We will be hosting future Olympic Athletes. Some of the best cyclists in our country that will be competing in the world. The L.A. Olympics is in 2028, and so it is really great if people could come out and support our future Olympians and just experience the excitement and enthusiasm that we are going to have here.”
On Thursday and Friday, June 15 and 16, the races start at 6:30 a.m. in Franklin County. They will be competing in a road race through Waid Park. This is a race where participants start as a group at the same time and cover the same distance.
Drivers can expect increased traffic on 6 Mile Post Road, Peppers Road, and Waid Park Road. There is going to be a full closure of 6 Mile Post Road from Pepper Road to Calico Rock Road.
Also, Waid Park Road, from Pepper Road to 6 Mile Post Road will be closed. There is also going to be traffic stops as the race package rolls through the course. Residents should plan an additional 30 minutes of travel time through this area.
However, besides traffic impacts, Visit Virginia Blue Ridge says these athletes will have a huge economic impact.
“It is a cumulative effect when you have leisure visitation coming in. With this particular case with this championship, it’s families coming in. So, we have hundreds of athletes. This is like a family vacation for many of these people. So they will be spending the entire week here enjoying our food, going to our attractions,” says Howard.
On Saturday, June 17, you can watch the Criterium Race in Roanoke City. This is a fast-paced, lapped bicycle race on a closed circuit.
Fans are encouraged to catch the action live and cheer on athletes all along Downtown.