KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Pro cycling teams from all across the country are coming to Knoxville this weekend for the USA Cycling Pro Championships. Members of the teams work together to push one of their riders to the top spot.
It’s a common misconception that cycling is just for a single rider. It’s actually a huge team sport, and the California-based Team Illuminate helped break down the specifics behind the team approach.
“It’s the biggest aspect of the whole race, you can’t just show up by yourself to a professional race especially and expect to do it all by yourself,” says team member Griffin Easter. “There are designated roles within the team. In order to help out your one or two riders that you think could probably win the race.
“You’ll see a lot of lines like every rider kind of really close together and the first couple riders are the work horses and then probably the protected rider is the guy in the back.”
Team Illuminate also shed light on the diet of a rider preparing for competition.
“However much food you can get in your body,” Easter says. “Especially on the day of the race because you’re going to be just like burning through so many calories. All different types of electrolyte drinks for your salts, especially here because it’s so humid. Because you’re going through salts quick.”
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The race is a marathon, and keeping your energy high means snacking on the go.
“We have these really cool pockets [in the back of the biking uniform] and you just stuff these babies with a bunch of food.”
As for who on the team is best positioned to win, Easter says it doesn’t really matter.
“It kind of just depends on who’s feeling good that day and that’s how the team works.”
Team Illuminate is just one of the many teams competing this weekend. The cycling championships are both Saturday and Sunday. Professional time trials are Saturday. Women ride at 11 a.m. and men starting at 2 p.m.
The professional road race is Sunday. Women ride at 9 a.m. and men at 1:15 p.m. The award ceremony is at 6 p.m. WATE 6 On Your Side will carry coverage live on air and online.
Amateur bike ride Pedal for the Red is Saturday from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.