USA Cycling on Wednesday announced the proposed course routes for the 2014 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships and the U.S. Handcycling Criterium National Championships during the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Business EXPO. The Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships are returning to Chattanooga May 24-26 for the second of three years.
This year, the winners of the men’s and women’s road races on Sunday, May 26, will each receive a one-year loan of a 2015 Volkswagen GTI. The all-new seventh generation GTI will be available for sale in the U.S. this summer, featuring a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and an available roof rack for cyclists.
“As the title sponsor of the USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships, we are excited to be part of one of the most visible cycling events in the country, and have it return to the hometown of Volkswagen’s U.S. manufacturing, Chattanooga, Tn., ” said Vinay Shahani, vice president of Marketing, Volkswagen Group of America. “Our alignment with USA Cycling demonstrates that our mission of Think Blue extends beyond our fuel-efficient vehicles, and that the company practices and supports living an active lifestyle.”
"We look forward to returning to Chattanooga after an extremely successful event last year," commented USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson. "The races last year were some of the most exciting I have seen in a long time and the course modifications for 2014 will add a new challenge for the riders and make for great viewing for the spectators. We are once again proud to have Volkswagen as the title sponsor for the event."
The event will crown men's and women's national champions in both the road race and time trial. Last year, Tom Zirbel (Boulder, Co./Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Carmen Small (Durango, Co./Specialized-Lululemon) won the men's and women's time trials to earn the Stars-and-Stripes jersey, while Jade Wilcoxson (Talent, Or./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Freddie Rodriguez (Berkeley, Ca./Jelly Belly Pro Cycling) each topped their respective podiums in the road race.
"Chattanooga proved to be a great host to the USA Cycling Pro Road & Time Trial Nationals Championships in 2013," said Mr. Zirbel. "Winning the time trial championship last year was a highlight of my career and I was thrilled to share it with the Chattanooga community. This year, I look forward to another challenging time trial course that has it all - long straights, climbing, descending, technical turns, and a fan-friendly course. I can't wait to defend my title against our nation's best."
The time trial course will once again be held adjacent to the Volkswagen factory and feature rolling terrain with few turns. Riders will complete two out-and-back runs of 9.5 miles each for a total of 19 miles. The course layout has four turnarounds which will allow spectators to see each rider multiple times.
"I am very much looking forward to coming back to Chattanooga for the 2014 USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial National Championships," Ms. Small said. "Chattanooga has a great community feeling, lots of support and great spectators. Both the road race and time trial courses were quite demanding both physically and mentally and made for some unpredictably exciting races. I'm expecting once again for a great turnout of participants and some extremely challenging races for this year. The USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial National Championships are one of the pinnacle races of the season and everyone would love to wear the Stars-and-Stripes jersey for a year."
A challenging new section has been added to the road race course, but downtown Chattanooga and the tough climb up Lookout Mountain will be featured prominently as they were in 2013. The men’s and women’s races will begin with a 5.1-mile start circuit -- three circuits for the women and four for the men. The course then takes the riders on a relatively flat run out Broad Street to begin the climb up Ochs Highway. The ascent up Ochs Highway is approximately 2.75 miles and climbs over 1100 feet each lap. The race will pass through Lookout Mountain to Scenic Highway, and return to downtown via Broad Street. Men will complete four laps up the climb, while the women will do two laps. The “long lap” is 16.5 miles in distance.
New for the race this year is the “wall” in North Chattanooga up Kent Street, a one-block section of road with grades of up to 20 percent. The men and women will face this challenge on each of the “long laps” as well as on three shorter 5.4-mile finishing circuits. The course will cross the Market Street Bridge and Veterans Bridge each lap, and spectators will see the riders cross through the start/finish line 11 times during the men’s race and eight times during the women’s race.
Ms. Wilcoxson is looking forward to the challenge of the new course in defending her title in the road race and this year's added incentive of winning a new car.
"I thought last year's course was perfect, for obvious reasons, but the addition of a short, steep climb to the downtown circuit will make the race even more exciting for both racers and spectators," Ms. Wilcoxson said. "There's nothing like suffering up a steep climb while rowdy spectators are partying by the roadside and cheering you on. I can't wait to go back to Chattanooga. Plus, I think I'd look good in a VW GTI. Or if one of my teammates wins, I'm going to insist that we raced as a team and won as a team, so we share the car. Either way, I have to get my hands on that car."
Local dignitaries are also happy to welcome back this exciting event to the streets of Chattanooga on Memorial Day weekend.
“Chattanooga is proud to host the Volkswagen USA Cycling Pro Road & Time Trial National Championships again this year,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “This is a world-class event that brings world-class athletes to our city. We look forward to welcoming the athletes and spectators back to Chattanooga for another challenging and inspiring competition.”
"For the second year we are happy to join our partners Volkswagen and USA Cycling in hosting the prestigious USA Cycling Pro Road & Time Trial National Championships,” said John Karr, chairman at Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga. "Chattanooga's recognition as a cycling-friendly city, along with our scenic mountains, will ensure a welcoming community and challenging race for all the competitors. This year we have added an exciting climb in North Chattanooga to give the road race a classic signature."