Most of the women's elite field at the U.S. Pro Road Championships in  Knoxville, Tennessee, took a knee during the singing of the U.S.  National Anthem this evening to protest the abortion ruling of the U.S.  Supreme Court earlier in the day. 

Following the time trial races on Thursday,  criterium racers got their chance to vie for the Stars and Stripes on  Friday evening. After a day off, the road race championships will  complete the championships on Sunday. 

"Everyone in Knoxville, TN for the US National Championships, we're  organizing a moment of solidarity for the overturning of Roe v Wade this  morning. Plan is to take a knee during the national anthem. Spread the  word," Alexis Ryan (L39ion of Los Angeles) wrote. 

Like the rest of America, Knoxville woke up this  morning to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned the Roe  v. Wade case, a 50-year-old law that granted women the right to abortion  in the U.S. 

This morning's ruling put an abortion ban into effect immediate across of the United States.  "The National Championship is a symbol of patriotism.

And it was obviously a really tragic moment for women in this country  what happened today. I think as athletes, we are role models to younger  women, but we are also role models to the entire world, and I think it's  important for us to speak our minds and make a statement with what  we're doing here. 

This is the biggest [cycling] event in the United States all year long  so to make a statement, to stand behind something that most of us  believe in is, I think, really important," Ryan told Cycling Weekly

Taking a knee during the singing of the U.S. National Anthem is a  gesture copied from American football player Colin Kaepernick who chose  to kneel during the playing of the anthem back in 2016 to raise  awareness to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality. 

Many athletes across different sports have since continued this gesture as means of showing solidarity.  It's a controversial act that has become widely known as "taking a knee" or "taking the knee."

But not all riders were keen to make such a bold  statement, and chose to stay standing, hand over heart as the singer  finished the song.