Race recap: Alexis Ryan and Bryan Gomez win Athens Twilight

The Athens Twilight Criterium made for an eventful first stop on the American Criterium Cup.

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Oh, Athens, you never disappoint. For the 2023 American Criterium Cup opener, Speed Week’s Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight presented by Michelob Ultra and Visit Athens, the fight for the series win kicked off with a fast start.

(Photo: Peter Discoe)

Scoring on the American Criterium Cup

Each race has three competitions: overall, sprint, and team. Riders gain points for their overall placing, and there are three intermediate sprints, one at seven laps in, midway, and seven to go. The sprint competition is stand-alone and is scored separately from overall points. Team points are calculated by adding the total of the top 3-point earners at each event.

The Women’s Race

Fifty-two women lined up to the start, a crowded field of national champions and Olympians. While there were attempts at early breaks, the group stayed bunched for most of the race until the last sprint points opportunity at seven laps to go.

With time running out, the break attempts became more pointed. The 2023 women’s field is very competitive this season, with two new teams from the NCL, DNA Pro Cycling, Automatic|Abus Racing, ButcherBox Cycling b/b Look, and L39ion of Los Angeles taking part; it was the final seven laps that show what we can expect throughout the series. With real estate running out, the contenders took to the front. The eventual winner, Alexis Ryan of L39ion of Los Angeles, played it perfectly, positioning herself to rocket out of turn four, hold on for the long sprint to the finish line, and finish ahead of the field.

Women's winner, Alexis Ryan
Women’s winner, Alexis Ryan. (Photo: Peter Discoe)

Women’s ACC and Athens Twilight top 3

  1. Alexis RYAN, L39ION of Los Angeles 
  2. Andrea CYR, Miami Nights 
  3. Erica ZAVETA, Denver Disruptors

Women’s ACC Sprint leaders

  1. Erica ZAVETA, Denver Disruptors 
  2. Rachel PLESSING, ButcherBox Cycling p/b LOOK 
  3. Leah KIRCHMANN, Denver Disruptors 

The Men’s Race

The 153-strong men’s field took to its 80-lap race. Immediately, riders hit the gas, and within a few laps, average laps speeds started climbing, reaching just under 30 mph. As gaps began to form, riders took to the front to try and stay away, and eventually, the move came with a group of nine, then 10, when Artem Shmidt of Hagens Berman Axeon made a huge bridge to join. The move stuck and lapped the field. It came down to the line with last year’s winner, Bryan Gomez of Miami Nights, winning by a bike throw against Danny Summerhill of American Cycling Group.

Eventual winner Bryan Gomez, Miami Nights
Eventual winner Bryan Gomez, Miami Nights (Photo: Peter Discoe)

Men’s ACC and Athens Twilight top 3

  1. Bryan GOMEZ, Miami Nights 
  3. Robin CARPENTER, L39ION of Los Angeles 

Men’s ACC Sprint leaders

  2. Dusan KALABA, ButcherBox Cycling p/b LOOK 
  3. Evan MCQUIRK, ButcherBox Cycling p/b LOOK 

Men’s and Women’s full results.

What makes Athens Twilight so unique?

More than anything, it’s the fans. The course is a classic, fast four-corner crit at just one kilometer and 18 feet elevation gain per lap. It’s not the most challenging profile and not very technical, but the speed makes this race brutally hard, with a lap speed average of nearly 30 miles per hour. Add 20,000 wild fans, and it’s easy to see why this race has won so much love over the past 43 years.

Replay: Speed Week’s Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight, presented by Michelob Ultra, and Visit Athens.

The next American Criterium Cup event is the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama, on May 6th.  

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