The Athens Twilight Criterium is always one of the high points of the US crit season, with tens of thousands of fans lining the street of Athens Georgia for one of the US scene's biggest cycling street parties. This year's event on Saturday April 30 promises to be no exception, and to spread festivities over more of the weekend, organizers have introduced two new events to this year's race, the Computrainer Qualifiers on Friday, April 29 and the Sprint Backstretch, during Saturday's crit.
The Computrainer Qualifiers will see the pro men compete for starting positions in the criterium with a 10km time trial, conducted in heats of eight riders. Each heat winner on Friday night qualifies for the final race for $2,000.
The Sprint Backstretch is a point-a-lap sprint on the backside of the criterium course. Points will be awarded on each lap. At the end of the race, the rider with the most points wins. Payout is $500, three-deep.
Among the pro racers set to contend the criterium are 2004 winner Brice Jones of Jelly Belly-Pool Gel pb Aramark and two-time champion Gord Fraser of Health Net pb Maxxis.
Jones, who won last year in a two-man break, will return this year with team-mates Danny Pate, Kirk Albers and David McCook. Fraser will be looking to set a record with a third official Twilight victory and fourth unofficial win. To date, only Fraser and Danny Clark have ever won Athens Twilight twice; Fraser in 2000 and 2002, and Clark in 1980 and 1981. Health Net riders Ivan Dominguez, Michael Sayers, Justin England, John Lieswyn, and Greg Henderson are also expected to be on the line.
For more information see www.athenstwilight.com.