By Chrös McDougall | Feb. 13, 2020, 11:08 a.m. (ET)

Patrick Dempsey poses for a photo at El Capitan Theater on Aug. 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

 

It’s about to get McDreamy in Tokyo.

Actor Patrick Dempsey, best known for his role as Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on long-running TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” has signed on to serve as honorary captain for the U.S. cycling team at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The actor, himself is a devoted cyclist, will use his profile to raise awareness for the U.S. team and promote the sport, according to a USA Cycling announcement.

“I have been a passionate cyclist for years now and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that I could not pass up,” Dempsey said in a statement. “Cycling is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle, and it is important to bring awareness to the world. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to play a small part in USA Cycling.”

Dempsey’s ties to the sport go beyond his own riding. The Maine native is also involved in an interactive cycling community called T20 Cycling, and his Dempsey Challenge run, walk and cycling event has raised millions of dollars for charity in his home state.

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The move to work with Dempsey is part of USA Cycling’s efforts to strengthen its ties to recreational athletes, in addition to the elite athletes who compete on the national teams. 

Dempsey isn’t the first celebrity to take on a promotional role with a U.S. Olympic team. In 2009, when US Speedskating lost a major corporate backer ahead of the Vancouver Games, comedian and late-night host Stephen Colbert stepped in, encouraging fans of his show to raise money for the team.

Super Bowl champion Vernon Davis also served as honorary captain of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Curling Team.

Dempsey and other cycling fans should have a strong U.S. team to cheer for in Tokyo.

Four years ago the U.S. won two cycling gold medals in Rio, and only two countries earned more than Team USA’s five total medals in the sport.

Now three U.S. cyclists go into the 2020 Olympic year as defending world champions: Chloé Dygert (road time trial), Hannah Roberts (BMX freestyle) and Alise Willoughby (BMX racing). Several others could be medal contenders in Tokyo, including mountain biker Kate Courtney, the 2018 world champ and reigning world cup champ; track cyclist Jennifer Valente, a member of the silver-medal-winning team pursuit in Rio who has earned a slew of world cup medals this season; and Connor Fields, the defending Olympic BMX racing gold medalist who has also seen world cup success in 2020.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.