KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Big crowds came out to cheer on the USA Cycling National Championships Knoxville, and Visit Knoxville is celebrating it as a success.
The race is a big deal for professional cycling as the men’s and women’s national champions are both awarded. They sped through downtown, slowing some with the burn of climbing Knoxville’s hills, and lap by lap they passed until the last man and woman were standing.
“I think it’s going to be a little while before I realize what just happened,” said Larry Warbasse, the men’s champion.
Amber Neben, fresh off her win, said, “I really have no words for it. So crazy cool to win solo.”
It was the first time the cyclists graced the city streets of Knoxville, and it was a big accomplishment for Visit Knoxville. They spent Monday reflecting on how it all went.
“Oh my gosh. This weekend, it was, for lack of a better word, awesome. I mean it exceeded every expectation. Knoxville, this community, they came out and supported this event in its first year in ways that I never anticipated,” said Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville.
With this year’s national championships in the books, the big news is it is coming back for the next two years, and Visit Knoxville is already looking for ways to make it even bigger and better.
“The list is long and mighty as it relates to that. I mean we saw ways which we could lay the expo out differently or what if we went down this street versus that street,” Bumpas said.
They are always looking for ways to improve, but they’re celebrating the successes that came with putting on a world-class cycling event.
“They had the biggest turnout for the time trials that they’ve had in the last 6 to 11 years, so you know we came at it and we went hard in our first year and it was awesome,” Bumpas said.
The races turned a city not so familiar with the sport into a place with growing cycling fans. Even the experienced cyclists were proud of Knoxville’s showing.
“There were so many people and everyone was so excited and shouting. It was a really, really good atmosphere. I was really impressed. It was awesome,” Warbasse said.
Bumpas said Visit Knoxville is compiling feedback from all the partners involved to get a plan in place for next year’s race.