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Johnson City Omnium postponed until August

Jeff Birchfield • May 7, 2020 at 6:02 PM

With a halt on major cycling events worldwide, the Johnson City Omnium has been postponed from May 30-31 to August 15-16.

The largest cycling event in the Tri-Cities, the omnium consists of three races — the Roan Groan road race, the Unicoi County Time Trials and the Fountain Square Criterium.

Reneau Dubberley, director of the JC Omnium, has been working with the Tennessee Bicycle Racing Association (TBRA), USA Cycling (USAC), and Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to minimize conflicts with other races. The postponed date will avoid local conflicts but not conflicts in the Southeast. With conflicts with TBRA races, there will probably be fewer racers in the omnium, but the quality should be there.

The event typically attracts 300-400 riders. The 35th annual Roan Groan is the area’s premier road racing event, going from downtown Elizabethton to Carver’s Gap on Roan Mountain. For the men’s pro riders, it features an 80-mile ride with the last 7.2 miles up the mountain.

The time trials take place over a 3.2-mile course in the Temple Hill community of Unicoi County, while the criterium is contested over a race course set up in downtown Johnson City.

Knoxville rider Stephen Bassett won his second Roan Groan title and the overall Johnson City Omnium championship in 2019. Madeline Bemis and Manuela Escobar led a 1-2 sweep of Milligan riders in the women’s Pro competition.

The races require key volunteers and others to make up the 50 or so people needed to put on the event. The key volunteers were only available for the August 15-16 date.

A final consideration is the permitting of the event by officials in Johnson City, Elizabethton and Unicoi County. Permits are unavailable at this time as permission to have mass events in August is currently unknown.

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