Knoxville cyclists say the ongoing saga with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will harm the public perception of the growing sport for some time.
"It's the general public that's really going to be impacted by this," said Phil Riemer, a member of the University of Tennessee Triathletes Team. "People that only watch the Tour de France once a year and forget about it for the rest of the year; those are the people that will really be turned off by the sport."
Nike is the latest company to drop its sponsorship with Armstrong. This comes after the U.S. Doping Agency found Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong has denied those charges, but said he would not fight the allegations any further.
On Wednesday, Armstrong stepped down as chair of the Livestrong Foundation. He helped launch that organization devoted to helping cancer patients.
"I grew up watching him win, so it's sort of depressing to see the updates in the news right now," Riemer added.
Bike shop owners in town have seen a growth in the sport locally, due in part because of Armstrong.
"There's no question, you can see this influx of people buying road bikes professionally than other bikes when Lance was winning. Everybody was excited," said Gary Chambers with Knoxville cycling shop "Bike Zoo."
With this face of cycling fading, they expect some changes in spending habits, like the brand of bike Armstrong used.
"Lance rides for Trek brand, that may affect some people wanting to buy that brand," said Luke Grieve, owner of the Fountain City Peddler.
Armstrong is banned from competitive cycling, but he still maintains he never cheated.