Virginia E28099s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 23 Am Road Preview
National Championships

Amateur Road Nationals Preview with Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24

By: Jim Rutberg  May 10, 2023

Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 has home-field advantage for the 2023 Amateur Road National Championships on June 14-17.

The 2023 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships, June 14-17, 2023, will showcase the world-class cycling terrain and supportive community in and around Roanoke, Virginia and Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Nationals will also be an opportunity for one of the country’s most successful professional cycling teams to support their hometown and the next generation of American cyclists.

Unique Collaboration

As communities around the United States recognize the economic benefits of promoting outdoor recreation, many are finding ways to showcase cycling opportunities in their respective regions. In 2022, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the Virginia Tourism Corporation partnered with Team Twenty24, a diverse team of female professional and junior cyclists. As a result, the team was renamed Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 and officially relocated their base of operations from Idaho to Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

“The training is phenomenal there,” beamed Nicola Cranmer, Founder and General Manager of VBR TWENTY24. “There are opportunities to train on roads with very few cars or pristine trails and gravel roads. And there’s great climbing terrain for when we bring the team together for training camps in the area.”

In addition to attracting one of the country’s most successful women’s cycling programs to the region, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (Visit VBR), the region’s destination marketing organization, was eager to bring national level cycling events to the area. Working with USA Cycling and local organizers, Roanoke successfully hosted the 2022 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships and was awarded the opportunity to host the championships again in 2023.

“Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge has been incredibly supportive of bringing more cyclist to the area and supporting our team,” added Cranmer. “The community has been outstanding in their support for us and for bringing more events to the area, like USA Cycling National Championships last year and this year.”

With the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships in their backyard, VBR TWENTY24 is also taking advantage of the opportunity to create unique experiences for 20 Junior women they’ll be bringing to the races.

Mentoring and Teaching the Next Generation

“Incorporating the junior program into our UCI program is a win for everybody because these young girls have mentors and role models who are high-performing athletes and hard-working examples of professional women, on the bike and off the bike,” Cranmer stated. “My overriding goal isn’t for the juniors to become professional cyclists, but if we can connect them to college scholarships, that’s a win to me. And we’ve been able to do that successfully over almost two decades.”

In addition to racing for National Championship jerseys and potential selection to Team USA for the 2023 UCI Road World Championships, the 20 Junior women from the VBR TWENTY24 team will also have opportunities at Nationals to learn from Cranmer and some of the team’s most illustrious riders and staff:

  • Kaitie Keough: VBR TWENTY24’s Junior Team Manager. Before coaching and managing teams, Keough was a successful junior, U23, and professional cyclist. She won the U23 Cyclocross National Championships, finished second in the UCI Cyclocross World Cup, and top-10 at UCI Cyclocross World Championships twice.
  • Marlies Mejias Garcia: The 2-time Olympian, mother, and winner of Stage 1 of the 2023 Redlands Bicycle Classic, will be one of the team’s pro riders helping to guide the juniors through their events.
  • Shelley Olds: Olympian and Director Sportif of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24 Cycling Team. When the team moved to Virginia, Shelley relocated to Roanoke. When the professional team’s move inspired Roanoke College to start a cycling team, Shelley also signed on as their first Head Coach.

Prior to the 2023 Amateur Road National Championships, the VBR TWENTY24 Junior women also receive mentorship from professional riders and coaches through regular Zoom calls with Keough and invited guests. For instance, the team will learn about time trial preparation from 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist and 2-time World Champion Kristin Armstrong. Similarly, athletes have learned from Jennifer Valente, a VBR TWENTY24 rider, Junior World Champion, 3-time Olympic medalist and 5-time Elite World Champion. “A lot of times, the Zoom calls are cycling specific, but other times they’re not. They are often more about life lessons and discussions about becoming strong, well rounded young women,” explained Cranmer.

Athletes to Watch

With 20 Junior Women competing across multiple events and age groups, Cranmer is confident the team will come away from the 2023 USA Cycling National Championships with some stars-and-stripes jerseys and podium finishes. Like many Junior programs, VBR TWENTY24 encourages young riders to compete across many disciplines. Cranmer commented, “I think when riders are younger, they should try all of it. They never know what they’re really good at unless they try it.”

Although all the young women on VBR TWENTY24 have the training and support to win, recent performances indicate to Cranmer that several riders may be poised for championship results. In the Junior Women 17-18 Category, Homare Yamashita and Ella Sabo are standout athletes. Yamashita recently competed in Redlands Classic with USA Cycling Development Team and is slated to compete in the Tour of Flanders Junior event in May. Sabo is also headed Europe to race for Team USA this spring after finishing 2nd in the Amateur Cat 1-2 Women’s Criterium at Redlands Bicycle Classic. Cranmer also advises that Veronica Scott (15-16), Aine Chen (13-14) Sarah Vargas (13-14), and Sophie Hernandez (13-14) are riders to watch in the upcoming 2023 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships.

For information on the 2023 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships, visit To learn more about the Visit Blue Ridge TWENTY24 Cycling Team, visit and