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Tankersley wins Slow Ride Omnium

Progression has been the name of the game for Unicoi County cyclist Nolan Tankersley.
The Unicoi County High School graduate and current Milligan College rider capped off a busy weekend by earning the overall Pro title in the Johnson City Slow Ride Omnium after a fourth place finish in the Franklin Woods Community Hospital Criterium on Sunday, June 7.
“I remember watching the pros when I was about 15 years old,” Tankersley said. “To be in that position now is a great feeling.”
The 20-year-old joins the ranks of previous Tour de France veterans and international champions to win the overall title.
Tankersley recalled taking the Category 3 win two or three years ago, he said, but while the accolades were nice, Nolan also liked what he saw from the community during the two-day race.
“It was a big wake up call,” he said. “Seeing all the support from the community each race day and it resulted in being one of the biggest turnouts for the omnium.”
With sponsorship from New Belgium Slow Ride, Franklin Woods, Tennessee Donate Life, Carter County Tourism and Tupelo Honey Cafe, the Slow Ride Omnium made its way back to the area with an increase workload for racers.
Races took place in Carter County, Unicoi County and Washington County. Action opened on Saturday, June 6, with the Carter County Roan Groan and Tupelo Honey Time Trial, which took place in Erwin, before Sunday’s crit finale.
Tankersley’s plate has been full since helping Milligan College to a USA Cycling Road Racing National Championship.
A whirlwind of a ride from his high school to now is an understatement, Tankersley added.
“18-year-old Nolan wouldn’t believe where we’d end up now,” Nolan said with a laugh, recalling his days at UCHS. “My mom, dad, coach and teammates have given me opportunities that I could have never imagined.”
The past two years have seen Nolan take to the roadways all across the United States and into the international realm to become a highly-touted racing prospect.
Progression comes into play when describing his career along with his faith, Tankersley said.
“Growing up, you’d see cyclists start of hot then fall short,” he added. “My coaches always told me to keep it steady and to keep that progression going. It’s about finding that balance when it comes to school and work and I do. Riding relieves the stress.”
The approach heading into the weekend’s slate of racing was a bit different from years before, according to Tankersley.
“Most local races, riders don’t think a lot about the competition,” he said. “But with the Slow Ride Omnium, that’s not the case. You have people coming all across the country to compete.”
A second-place finish in the Roan Groan brought back up the thinking of sacrifices, Tankersley added. An extra 25 miles to the course changed the approach from past races.
“Your body is sore, but you just keep going,” Nolan said. “It’s that way with racing, your body gets tired, but you never really get tired of bettering yourself.”
The agenda for Nolan going forward stays busy with a trip to Oklahoma then later in June to Ohio.
As a member of the Finish Strong Elite Cycling Team, the group delves into NCC and USA crit races.
The goal for Tankersley moving forward is the potential of being recognized as the best young rider through the organizations.