Athens Twilight Criterium kicks off USA Crits series

Athens, Georgia hosts 30th Annual Athens Twilight Criterium & Festival Kicks Off 2009 USA CRITS Speed Week & National Series Some of the best professional male and female sprint cyclists in the world will race in the 30th Annual Athens Twilight Criterium on April 25. The riders will compete in separate events that customarily draw an estimated 30,000 spectators to historic, downtown Athens, Ga., every April.

Athens, Georgia hosts 30th Annual Athens Twilight Criterium & Festival
Kicks Off 2009 USA CRITS Speed Week & National Series

Some of the best professional male and female sprint cyclists in the world will race in the 30th Annual Athens Twilight Criterium on April 25. The riders will compete in separate events that customarily draw an estimated 30,000 spectators to historic, downtown Athens, Ga., every April.

The races are hotly contested on a closed, 1-kilometer course near the University of Georgia. The men’s race—the main event—is an 80-kilometer race. The cyclists ride so fast that the air they push literally bends trees lining the course. The pro women are formidable competitors too, and their 40-kilometer race generates lots of heated action as team tacticians try to gain dominance over the entire field.

The Athens Twilight Criterium headlines the 2009 USA CRITS Speed Week, which features seven races, in seven cities, in seven days. At stake is an $80,000 purse for the men’s match-up and $35,000 for the women’s. That puts the overall total for the Twilight and Speed Week at $115,000. The Twilight also kicks off the 2009 USA CRITS National Series, which features 10 races across the USA, concluding with the Las Vegas finals in September.

Athens Twilight: Quick Facts

• The Twilight Criterium & Festival will be held April 24 – April 25, 2009. Additional information may be found at: www.athenstwilight.com

• An estimated one-million residents, competitors, and visitors have descended on Athens, over the past 30 years ago to see what has become a legendary racing event.

• Athens, the “Classic City”, is noted as the one of two primary homes for professional cycling in the USA. Boulder, Colo., is the other.

• This year, Outside magazine—a national publication with more than one million readers—voted the Athens Twilight the “best road race in America.”

• Blue Ridge Outdoor has also voted the Twilight as the “best cycling event in the country.”

• In previous years, VeloNews named the Twilight “America’s Criterium Not to Miss” and, this year, featured the Twilight in the VeloNews “Race and Ride Guide to America’s Best.”

• Originally staged during the summer, the main races were scheduled at night to beat the heat and to be entertainment events. Even though it is now held in the spring, the night-time atmosphere is still one of the Twilight’s most appealing features.

• The night-time atmosphere of the Twilight is unparalleled at any venue across the country, and offers unique challenges for competitors who dare to face the 90-degree turns that make the Twilight a perennial favorite among the world’s best cyclists.

• The Twilight is not an official UGA “Town and Gown” event, but the event draws young and old alike. There are no events specifically for students, although many participate.

• When the Athens Twilight started in 1980, there were a couple of restaurants but no bars along the course. Now there are approximately 40 bars and 20 restaurants, and they provide outdoor space from which to view the races.

• In newly added Start Grid Qualifiers, fans can watch the pros up close as they compete on a stationary CompuTrainer for their starting position not to mention a separate $2,000 in prize money. Fans will get to see how hard the pros work during a race, get a chance to talk to athletes, or get an autograph or two before the big race on Saturday night.

• Since the first Twilight Criterium in 1980, festivities around the main event have grown to include two, full days of amateur cycling and handcycling races, a 5k run, a kids criterium, a jazz festival, and much more.

• World-Class Handcycle Racing – The first handcycle criterium was held on the Twilight course right after the creation of these high-tech lightweight machines driven by arm power. This year will see the world’s best descend on Athens as the Twilight caps off a week of international racing bringing the best Paralympic athletes to Athens.

2009 USA CRITS Race Schedules

USA CRITS Speed Week 2009

Date Race Location
April 25 Athens Twilight
Athens, GA
April 26 Historic Roswell Criterium
Roswell, GA
April 28 Beaufort Memorial Criterium
Beaufort, SC
April 29 Downtown Walterboro Criterium
Walterboro, SC
May 1 Spartanburg Regional Criterium
Spartanburg, SC
May 2 Dilworth Criterium
Dilworth, SC
May 3 Global BMW Sandy Springs Criterium
Sandy Springs, GA

USA CRITS National Series 2009

Date Race Location
April 25 Athens Twilight
Athens, GA
June 21 Harlem Skyscraper Classic
(Men Only)
New York, NY
June 28 Austin International Criterium
Austin, TX
July 11 Iron Hill Twilight Criterium
West Chester PA
August 8 Presbyterian Hospital Inv. Criterium
Charlotte NC
August 23 Capital Criterium
Washington, DC
August 30 Chris Thater Memorial
Binghamton, NY
September 5 San Francisco Twilight Criterium San Francisco, CA
September 17 Texas Tough (Men Only)
Dallas, TX
September 24 USA CRITS Finals
Las Vegas, NV