KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Excitement is building for the 2017 U.S. Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships in Knoxville on June 24 and 25. WATE 6 On Your Side anchor Lori Tucker got to ride alongside one of the pro cyclists who happens to call Knoxville home.
Stephen Bassett is only 22, but has been riding professionally in the U.S., Europe and Mexico for the past four years. He’s looking forward to the big race in his hometown.
“I think this is really going to show people how good the road riding is here,” Bassett said. “I’ve ridden road bikes all over the world and the training here is the best, so it’s really nice.”
Lori met Bassett in South Knoxville for an easy bike ride to show everyone you don’t have to be a pro to take part in race weekend. She is leading the Celebrity Team for Pedal for the Red, along with former Vol Heath Shuler and WATE 6 On Your Side meteorologist Ken Weathers.
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Pedal for the Red gives amateurs the opportunity to ride the same closed course that will be used for time trials. Pedal for the Red benefits the American Red Cross and is open to families, friends, and groups wanting to take part in raising funds for Red Cross programs and response to disasters.
It ‘s close to five miles, and runs from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24. It starts on E. Jackson Avenue in the Old City.
Bassett agrees it’s a scenic ride. “It’s going to take you through a lot of downtown Knoxville. It’s going to show you some stuff. It’s not crazy challenging so it’ll just be a good bike ride and a fun time.”
After the ride, participants have the opportunity to watch the best cyclists in the country race for the Pro Time Trials national championship. In that event, Bassett and other pros will be tackling a tough course including an incredibly challenging steep hill on Sherrod Road. The race is 14 laps.
“The serious part of this course,” Bassett said, “is the Sherrod climb so that’s really tough. The rest of it is just like winding and little bit technical. That climb is really going to be the deciding factor.”
Having athletes of this caliber compete in Knoxville is a coup for Visit Knoxville which is hosting the event.
“It’s so awesome that we have a race of this sort with this type of athletes in Knoxville, Tennessee. I can’t say this enough. When you’re talking to Stephen, you don’t realize he’s a world class athlete. He’s our neighbor, he lives in our community, but he races all over the world and he wins,” said Erin Donovan with Visit Knoxivlle.
Everyone is encouraged to line the course and cheer Bassett on to victory.