International cycling returns to Rochester Saturday night with the Twilight Criterium.
According to the Rochester Twilight Criterium Executive Director Scott Page, a criterium, or a "crit," is an extremely high-paced bicycle race that takes place on a short closed-loop course.
"This is kind of like thorough bred racing, its super, super fast you need a lot of horse power as a rider, you need skill to negotiate all these corners."
One reason criteriums are so intense is because they’re much shorter than a typical road race. Page said most road racers aren’t the best criterium riders, and vice versa.
The fast paced races are specifically designed for city streets, usually following a one-mile loop giving spectators front row seats to the action.
Of the eight professional level criteriums in the country, Page says ours is pretty unique. That’s because most cities are built on a grid.
“So it’s just a bunch of 90 degree right and left hand turns. What’s neat about this course is that we have Bausch & Lomb, with Albert Paley’s sculpture there so you get that really cool - you turn left and have to go around this 180 carving turn."
This year's criterium also includes a running event, giving athletes the chance to sprint the one-mile loop. Page said he wanted to give runners an alternative to the usual 5k or 10k’s that happen in the city, and the option to run something fast.
The Twilight Criterium began in 2004 and ran through 2008. It came back to Rochester and has been running again since 2015.
The first races begin Saturday night at 5:30pm.