Seven races, in seven cities, over seven days with a total prize fund exceeding $100,000 - those are the numbers that make up the USA Crits Speed Week which kicks off Saturday, April 26 with the Twilight Criterium in Athens, Georgia. Around 30,000 fans are expected for the series opener, as well as band R.E.M. playing their new album 'Accelerate' to the crowd.
Last year's series winner Mark Hekman (Toshiba - Santo) also took out the Athens Twilight last year, and knows what it takes to repeat that success. "I won because I was consistent, raced hard the whole time, and didn't crash," said Hekman. Last year Hekman was a member of Team Inferno Racing, but has since joined the Toshiba-Santo Pro Cycling Team presented by Herbalife.
Two new venues will join the established South Carolina cities of Beaufort, Walterboro, Greenwood and Spartanburg this year: the historic Dilworth area of Charlotte, North Carolina will host the penultimate criterium, while Sandy Springs, Georgia will anchor the series.
The full schedule of USA Crits Speed Week:
Athens Twilight Criterium, Athens, Georgia. Saturday April 26.
Beaufort Memorial Classic, Beaufort, South Carolina. Tuesday April 29.
Walterboro Cycling Classic, Walterboro, South Carolina. Wednesday April 30.
Uptown Greenwood Cycling Challenge, Greenwood, South Carolina. Thursday May 1.
Steadman Hawkins Cycling Classic, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Friday, May 2.
Historic Dilworth Criterium, Charlotte, North Carolina. Saturday May 3.
Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge, Sandy Springs, Georgia. Sunday May 4.