OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cyclists put their foot to the pedal during the USA Cycling Individual Time Trial (ITT) National Championships. It was them against the clock as they fought to complete a variety of laps on the 7.2-mile course, with the starting line at the Oak Ridge Rowing venue.

“I’m really excited to mix it up with the best in the nation,” 19-year-old Cole Kessler, a cyclist who competed in the ITT said. “It’s my first time racing at pro-nationals so I’m coming from juniors last year and I won the time trial last year, so hopefully I can have a good one today.”

Another cyclist, Zoe Ta-Perez, also said she was happy to be a part of the competition. Her eagerness paid off as she placed third.

“It’s pretty exciting just because you have a lot of control over your effort and preparation,” Ta-Perez said.

Win or lose, the cyclists pushed themselves in hopes of coming out on top. The Women’s division had to complete two laps, which is 23. 2 km, and the men had an additional lap making it 34.9 km.

For fans like Rebecca Whitehead, an Oak Ridge native, it was something worth seeing.

“ I love coming out here and watching The cyclist,” Whitehead said. “It’s really cool to see pro athletes up close like this.”

It was a hard fight, but the ones that were crowned champions were Leah Thomas of California for the women’s division and Lawson Craddock of Texas for men.

“It really is a unique road for me, I used to be a teacher and I never expected to be here,” Thomas said.

“I was pretty fortunate to have A really good day and really good legs. I’m really thankful to walk away with a jersey,” Craddock said.

Even though there was only one national champion for each division, a Knoxville native who has been cycling for decades says everyone truly goes home a winner because of the joy that comes from riding.

“One thing that I didn’t appreciate when I was younger but I really do now is the mental health part of it,” Howard Horn, a bicycle racer from 1969-1978 said. “When you’re on the bike, you’re concentrating on your gear shifting, and you’re negotiating the road, but you forget all the bad stuff that may have been in your day or your week, or people or your job or whatever. You’re on the bike just having fun, it’s like being a kid again,” he said.

More USA Cycling events will take place through Sunday.