KNOXVILLE - One of the biggest championships in cycling is moving to Knoxville in 2017.
Visit Knoxville and USA Cycling announced the 2017 Volkswagen U.S. Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships will come to Knoxville Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25.
USA Cycling officials say they chose Knoxville over other cities in the country for its terrain, biking culture and organization within Visit Knoxville.
“I find the terrain of the city very compelling," said Derek Bouchard-Hall, CEO of USA Cycling. "A lot of hills right around the downtown which, as a bike racer and somebody who is now planning races, I find that really exciting."
Harvey Liberman has biked in Knoxville since the 1970s and attended the announcement. He looks forward to seeing how the event impacts the community.
“The noise and excitement is just fantastic. It’s going to be great for Knoxville," he said. "The excitement of a race like this is beyond belief."
The men and women's time trials will run on Friday, followed by the Knoxville Gran Fondo -- a long-distance cycling event-- on Saturday. The road race finals will be held Sunday in downtown Knoxville.
"We are thrilled that USA Cycling has chosen Knoxville for their event," said Kim Bumpas, the president of Visit Knoxville. "We hope this community rallies around these elite athletes as well as participates in the Fondo and visits the Cycling Expo at World's Fair park."
Visit Knoxville estimates the event will draw in over 10,000 people and $8.4 million in total economic impact.
USA Cycling is making this a standalone event rather than pairing it with the Masters and Para Cycling National Championships in May as it did in 2016.
In May, USA Cycling originally announced it would be holding both the 2016 and 2017 road nationals in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The organization hasn't said why it's changed the 2017 venue to bring the event to Knoxville.
Micah Rice, the vice president of national events for the organization, said in 2015 the race is changing venues more frequently to keep participants and spectators from having to fly in for the same race over and over.
Tennessee is no stranger to the event. After 21 years in Philadelphia and then six years in Greenville, South Carolina -- the event eventually came to Chattanooga for three years between 2013 and 2015.
According to WBIR's sister station in Chattanooga, the event raked in $6 million for the city in 2014 after nearly 25,000 people came in from out of town to watch the spectacle. Visit Knoxville says it was conservative in estimating the people and funds the event will bring in next year.