By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
While some races are finding the current economy a hurdle in expanding or even maintaining their current status, there are some events still growing. In just its fifth year, and second on the UCI calendar, the Rochester Twilight has transformed from an evening criterium to a three-stage omnium, with a time trial and road race sandwiching the traditional speed criterium from August 8-10. Race director Todd Scheske said the impetus to grow the event was in response to the amount of fans watching the racing.
"The popularity of the Saturday night race has grown from 5,000 the first year to 30,000 people watching last year," he told Cyclingnews. So we decided to take it bigger. We have plans to make it even bigger in the future."
The format this year will be an omnium that is run like a typical UCI stage race, but using points to calculate the overall. The racing starts with a 6.5km out-and-back time trial from the Port of Rochester on Friday, the twilight criterium on Saturday in the downtown and finishing with a 162km point-to-point road race with finishing circuits downtown. "We will run it under stage race rules but based on points, and break ties based on UCI rules," said Scheske.
Though there are two more stages, Scheske said the criterium is still the main event. "The criterium will still be the biggest payout to keep that the highlight race." And though the three-day event is for the pro men only, there will still be category racing for the criterium.
Despite the focus on the criterium, the road race will likely have a major say in deciding the overall winner, with a tough rolling course around the Finger Lakes area. "We've got the typical east coast climbs, short and steep of 2-3km of 10-12 percent. They are mostly in the first half and they keep coming at you, so it should be an interesting team strategy.
"If we could construct the race the way we wanted to, we would put the climbs at the end, but Rochester is in a flood plain! But we do have closing circuits with a bunch of turns and rolling hills."