Roan Groan kicks off JC Omnium

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jun 1, 2018 at 3:30 PM

The 34th annual Carter County Roan Groan, the area’s premier road racing event featuring a route from downtown Elizabethton to Carvers Gap on Roan Mountain, kicks off the Johnson City Omnium this weekend.

Last year’s cycling event had an international flavor with Belarus native Andrei Krasilnikau winning the Pro 1/2 race in a sprint to the finish over South Carolina rider Winston David. Mikayla Harvey of New Zealand took top honors in the women’s Pro 1/2 race.

It could be another international affair with Team Colombia represented at this year’s event. Manuela Escobar from Team Colombia looks to improve her spot by one after finishing runner-up to Harvey a year ago.

Regardless of who emerges victorious with American riders from Ohio to Florida entered, it’s a particularly tough challenge for all involved.

For the men’s pro riders, it’s an 80-mile course with the last 7.2 miles up the mountain, making it the only Category 1 finish on the East Coast. The lower category riders go 55 miles, but they still have the tough mountain finish.

Overall, the Roan Groan is just one of the three events that comprise the Johnson City Omnium. The others are the Tupelo Honey Time Trials, set over a 3.2-mile course on Temple Hill Road in Erwin, on Saturday evening and the Ballad Health Criterium in downtown Johnson City on Sunday.

Last year, Virginia rider Bryan Lewis parlayed his win in the criterium to an overall omnium win over Krasilnikau.

Erwin native Nolan Tankersley holds the distinction of being the only local Pro champion of the JC Omnium with his 2015 victory. Anthony Bailey, a 16-year-old from Piney Flats, looks to duplicate that feat after he won the Cat 4 overall title last year.

The Carter County Roan Groan starts in downtown Elizabethton at 9 a.m. Saturday with seven categories to start in five-minute intervals.

The Tupelo Honey Time Trials start in Erwin at 5:30 p.m., while the Ballad Health Criterium in downtown Johnson City begins Sunday at 8 a.m. The race that features beating, banging and drafting — a bicycle version of a NASCAR race — features the women’s Pro race at 1:50 p.m. and the men’s Pro race scheduled for 3 p.m.

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