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Big weekend coming up for cyclists with Johnson City Omnium

Tanner Cook • Updated May 31, 2017 at 7:36 PM

 When Hannah Arensman won the 11th edition of the Johnson City Omnium last summer in the women’s Pro Category 1-2, she was just a mere 18 years of age. This weekend, Arensman is registered again and hopes to become the first repeat winner in the 12-year history of the Omnium.

The runner-up for the men, Winston David, is also set to return this year to improve upon his finish from last summer. David’s points consisted of second-place finishes on the Roan Groan and on the 3.2-mile time trial course in Erwin. David also finished fourth in the criterium in Johnson City.

The Omnium takes place Saturday morning with the 33rd edition of the Carter County Roan Groan, which for the Pro 1-2 men and women will start in Elizabethton. The course winds 80 miles up to the finish at Carver’s Gap, just short of the Roan High Knob.

“Mountain climbing is more a fitness type of ride than the criterium, which is pure skill,” said race director Reneau Dubberley. “I think that is one reason that Hannah was successful on the climb last year. She was in good shape.”

The climb takes in breathtaking views, but also covers a brutal 6,846 feet of elevation over the 80 miles.

Arensman took the title last year up the mountain in just a shade over three hours, but she was closely followed by Karen Ostergaard, who finished seven seconds behind.

The Omnium will then shift venues to Erwin in the Tupelo Honey Time Trial on Saturday afternoon, which will be over a 3.2-mile course with a one mile climb at 4.0 percent average and a 6.7 percent decent for 0.5 mile. Arensman took runner-up honors last year by one second, but one second can make a lot of difference in a cycling stage race. It can be the difference between winning and losing.

On Sunday, the Omnium will wrap with the Franklin Woods Community Hospital Criterium in Johnson City. This ride involves the most skill for riders being that the course has eight sharp turns in one kilometer. Arensman finished in fifth-place last year, but she looks to improve in hopes of defending her title.

The points distribution for riders goes 30-deep in the Roan Groan and in the criterium, while the time trial runs 15-deep. Points are needed in the individual finishes and in the team competition. The team competition boasts the successful Colombian National Team.

“I want to put together an event that is unique to our area and get people to come back,” Dubberley said. “That is one of the main ideas that I had when the Omnium came into existence.”

The event attracts many outsiders, with a recent survey saying more than 90 percent of competitors are not from the immediate area. This results in a boost to the economy for Johnson City with the same survey saying that the event provided nearly $475,000 last year.

“In order to win the whole event, a rider has to be very well-rounded,” said Dubberley.

The event has cash prizes totaling up to $12,000 and provides spectators exciting competition within hands-reach along with sidewalk dining on the course from restaurants and breweries.

The Roan Groan begins Saturday at 9 a.m. and the Tupelo Honey Time Trial will begin at 5:30 p.m. The Franklin Woods Community Hospital Criterium will take place on Sunday in downtown Johnson City beginning at 8 a.m. with the junior riders. The Pro 1/2 race will take place at 3 p.m.

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