By Brian Hoffman
Tom Rambo, dean of students at Roanoke College, has announced that RC will launch a competitive cycling program for women and men. Rambo broke the news at the recent announcement concerning the 2022 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships, which were held in the valley last week.
Although cycling as a sport will be new to Roanoke College, there is a strong connection between Roanoke College and cycling. Roanoke College women’s soccer captain Shelley Olds ’03 became a world class cyclist after graduating from the College in 2003. She was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team and competed in the 2012 London Olympics.
“I am ecstatic about the news that Roanoke College will have a collegiate cycling team,” Olds said. “There couldn’t be a more perfect location for competitive cycling. The terrain and beauty of the Roanoke area is an easy draw for both recreational and amateur cyclists of all ages. I think many student-athletes, current and prospective, will see this as an incredible opportunity to enhance their collegiate experience as well as their athletic growth and development.
“I will be rooting for the team, and I know that anything that Roanoke College commits to, they end up doing very well. I have no doubt that the collegiate cycling team will be well-run and extremely successful.”
Roanoke College has registered both men’s and women’s teams with USA Cycling, competing this fall as a club sport. The teams, for men and women, will elevate to varsity status within a few years and at that time will compete as part of the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference (ACCC).
“USA Cycling is excited to have Roanoke College back on board after more than a 10-year hiatus,” said Justin Evans, USA Cycling’s Collegiate and Interscholastic Programs Manager. “The new leadership is pushing the program in the direction of success, so we are excited to see how this program grows from their restart as a club and the transition to varsity in the coming semesters.”
The College will begin the search for a cycling coach this summer. There is already interest in the program and the College is recruiting students to take part in the booming cycling culture in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. One recent addition to that culture is Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24, a national cycling team that aims to prepare female cyclists for the Olympics. The team is based in the Roanoke Valley.
“The Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 team is recognized as a valued recruitment platform for young athletes heading to college, with eight professional athletes and 27 junior athletes currently in the program,” said Nicola Cranmer, founder and general manager of Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 cycling team. “I’m thrilled that Roanoke College will be an additional pathway to education for cycling students. The timing is perfect with USA Cycling Amateur National Championships coming to Virginia’s Blue Ridge in the coming weeks, and this is a super opportunity for students to experience first-hand what the area has to offer.”
Virginia’s Blue Ridge is home to excellent cycling assets as America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital including a Silver-level Ride Center designation from the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Region-wide the area has excellent road cycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway and greenways as well as emerging gravel trails.