USA Cycling announced today that after seven years in Greenville, South Carolina, the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships will move to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2013, as part of a new four-year partnership with Volkswagen of America. In addition to venue change, the championship event will at long last bring the professional women's national title race into the fold beginning next year.
In previous years, the professional men have had their own national championship weekend while the women were grouped with the junior, U23 and amateur races in the USA Cycling Elite Road Championships event.
While the race has been set for Chattanooga through 2015, Volkswagen's partnership with USA Cycling goes one year longer, and extends to all 17 USA Cycling national championships. In addition, for every Volkswagen car sold to a USA Cycling member, Volkswagen will contribute $250 to the USA Cycling Development Foundation. Those funds will be used to support the junior, under 23, and women's development team programs.
"Chattanooga and the region provide USA Cycling's Professional National Championships with ideal competitive terrain, as well as a spirited history of cycling, community and corporate support," said Steve Johnson, USA Cycling President & CEO.
The inclusion of the women alongside the men's professional event was met with excitement from the top female racers of the country. "This is a huge milestone in the growth of women's cycling," said 2008 UCI Time Trial World Champion Amber Neben.
"The United States has some of the strongest female riders in the world who compete on both domestic and international professional trade teams. There is a very high level of women's racing that takes place throughout the world," Neben continued. "The addition of the USA elite women's national championships to the men's pro event is a sign of growing respect. There will be a greater awareness of the fact there is a professional level for women. This is a very positive step in the growth and promotion of women's cycling."
"I am thrilled to hear the long-awaited, official news on the inclusion of the highly-talented American women's peloton at the sport's marquee national championship event," said Kristin Armstrong, Olympic gold medalist and athlete representative on USA Cycling's Professional Committee.
"American female cyclists have proven themselves amongst the world's best and I'm excited to have the opportunity to share that talent on one of the sport's biggest stages," stated 2011 USA Cycling Elite Time Trial National Champion Evelyn Stevens.
The time trial will most likely take place near Volkswagen's newest LEED-certified factory in Chattanooga, while the road race will feature the Lookout Mountain climb, a 4.6 mile ascent with a 6% average gradient.
The change is another step in the evolution of the US national championships. Up until 2006, when the event moved to Greenville, South Carolina, the USA had no professional time trial championship. Before then, the professional men contested their national title in Philadelphia at an event mixed with international riders.
In 2011, the race moved from September to May to bring the race in line with the rest of the professional cycling world's championships, which typically take place in the first week of June.