Stephen Bassett of Knoxville became just the second cyclist ever to capture the Johnson City Omnium one day after winning the Roan Groan road race although he was quick to give much of the credit to Erwin rider Nolan Tankersley.
Despite Bassett riding for the Hagens Berman team and Tankersley affiliated with Volkswagen, the two 19-year-old East Tennessee riders worked as unofficial teammates in Sunday’s Pro 1/2 race at the Franklin Woods Community Criterium.
It led to an eighth-place finish for Bassett and a ninth-place for Tankersley. For Bassett, he scored just enough points to take a 57-56 overall win over criterium winner Joseph Lewis.
“I just tried to keep going forward and not get bogged down too much,” Bassett said. “My friend, Nolan Tankersley, he was racing up too, so it was good that we worked together and didn’t let all the teams dictate the race. It was mutally beneficial for us to help each other out. We ride together a lot and I even stayed at his house a week over the winter to train, so it worked out nice.”
Bassett, a student at the University of Tennessee, accomplished a feat even Tour de France veteran Brent Bookwalter couldn’t do with the double. He joined 2012 winner Robert Sweeting as the only men to sweep both the Roan Groan and J.C. Omnium.
Besides the road race win and his eighth-place finish in the crit, he finished second to Hincapie’s Chris Butler in Saturday evening’s Tupelo Honey Time Trial.
“I tried to do my best TT, but Butler got me in that one,” he said. “It was good to finish second there. In this race, I knew Hincapie would be strong so I just tried to hold on and get as many points as I could.”
Lewis, who is a teammate to Butler on George Hincapie’s team, won the criterium by outrunning Lupus Racing teammates Winston David and James Schurman on the final lap. A 25-year-old Australian who now lives in Greenville, South Carolina, Lewis said that David’s charge from 30 seconds back to catch the lead duo ended up helping him instead of Schurman.
“To be honest, that actually helped me out to have his teammate come around,” Lewis said. “It kind of messed Jimmy up and David led me out perfectly. I was able to take the sprint easily with Jimmy out of the picture.”
A little further back, Tankersley ended with an overall result of seventh. He finished 13th in the Roan Groan, but was disappointed with a 10th place finish in the Time Trial held just one mile from his home in Erwin.
Still after riding in the top five for most of Sunday’s race, he was pleased with his overall performance.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” Tankersley said. “I was a little bummed in the road race because I had a flat and I had to chase for about five miles. It definitely took a lot out, but finishing 13th on the Roan was pretty good. The TT on my home turf, less than a mile from the house, I really hoped to get a top five, but it is what it is. A clean season all year and when I didn’t need it, it happened. The home race...but that’s racing.”
Ironically, a flat tire also ended up hurting Tankersley’s younger brother, Connor, in Sunday’s Category 3 race. Connor Tankersley finished fourth in Saturday evening’s Time Trial and looked to match it in the criterium before the flat tire relegated him to14th in the overall omnium standings.
“I didn’t have the best results today with a flat tire with two laps to go,” Connor Tankersley said. “There was a piece of concrete sticking out and I had a friend have a flat tire at the same spot in this past race. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. Not what I wanted, but all in all, I felt I had a pretty decent weekend.”
There was also a sweep of the Roan Groan and the Omnium on the women’s side. Debbie Milne, a two-time Masters National Champion, nearly lapped the field in the Women’s Pro race. Combined with her win in the Roan Groan and a third-place finish in the time trial, the 44-year-old Mississippi rider, who now lives in South Carolina, rolled to a 73-52 victory over Tennessee state road race champion Amanda Ragle of Brentwood.
“Every win is super special,” Milne said. “I never forget any race that I win. Today, my teammate (Jennifer AllenBuerger) was just perfect. She made some attacks, made them close, I countered, then she countered. It was perfect teamwork and I couldn’t got off the front without her. Half the win goes to her.”
Trevy Ramos, a 29-year-old from Johnson City, won the Women’s Cat 4 crit, while Jonathan Kinnick, also from Johnson City, finished eighth in the men’s Cat 4. Jacob Ratliff of Roan Mountain was eighth in the overall Cat 4 omnium standings.
Four of the top five in the men’s Cat 5 race were from Washington County. Blair Ellis of Johnson City was second, followed by William Brown, a 64-year-old from Johnson City. Gray teenagers Jared and Mike Lambert added finishes of fourth and fifth.comments powered by Disqus