When the start gun fires at the inaugural San Francisco Twilight Criterium on September 13, there will be no shortage of talent on the start line. In the pro women's race, Webcor Cycling Team will line up its best riders including two Olympians and national champions.
Two-time Olympian and 2004 National US Time Trial Champion Christine Thorburn, who placed fifth in this summer's Olympic time trial, will make the San Francisco Twilight one of her last races before she retires at the end of September to concentrate on her "other" full-time career as a rheumatologist.
Also riding for Webcor will be Gina Grain, a member of the Canadian Olympic Team, 2007 Canadian National Road Champion and 2008 US Open track omnium champion.
According to Andy Ball, president of Webcor Builders and owner of Webcor Cycling Team, the team is thrilled at the prospect of racing on their home turf and reviving a time when more people came to watch cycling than baseball or football.
"This is a great opportunity for our women's professional team to race in front of locals," said Ball. "The number of people who came to the San Francisco Grand Prix a few years ago was just amazing, so we expect the San Francisco Twilight to be a big draw, too."
The start line for the men's race will also have its share of stars, including 2008 National Criterium Champion Ken Hanson (California Giant/Specialized), 2008 Northern California/Nevada Criterium Champion Jesse Mendonca (Adobe/HDR) and Jonathan Cantwell (Jittery Joe's), who just won the overall at the 2008 International Cycling Classic, also known as "Superweek".
The race will serve as the next-to-last race in the USA Crits series and promises aggressive racing and team tactics as series leaders - Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Yosvany Falcon (Toshiba-Santo) work to defend their leads. Racers will also be fighting for a piece of the US $15,000 cash purse.
The overall series winner will have the most points earned by the number of laps led, placement in a special mid-race "prime" lap during each race, and the racer's finish in each race. The final race in the series will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 25.
For more information on the San Francisco Twilight Criterium, visit www.sftwilight.com.
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Tomas Nilsson and Daniel Benson.)