Southern Californian cyclists Jennifer Valente and Justin Williams emerged victorious in the professional races at the 31st annual Twilight Criterium through downtown Boise on Saturday evening. Valente, a San Diego native and silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, won the overall women’s race while Williams, a Los Angeles native, won the overall men’s race.
Despite temperatures nearing 95 degrees at the 7 p.m. opening ceremonies, a crowd of more than 12,000 filled the sidewalks along a course that ran through Jefferson, 6th, Bannock and 9th Streets. Each lap was about a half-mile; the women raced for one hour while the men raced for 1 1/2 hours. The Twilight Criterium is an official USA Cycling race.
“It’s really inviting,” Williams, racing in his third Twilight Criterium said. “For me, what makes a good course, is just good pavement and good crowds. That’s it.”
Williams, a 28-year-old riding for Cylance, won a thriller against teammate Scott Law. The two were neck-and-neck until the last moment when Williams surged ahead. They also avoided a late crash near the starting line that took several cyclists out of the race.
The win by Williams broke a four-year streak of wins by the United Healthcare team.
“At the end of the day, as long as my team wins, I don’t care. If Scott would have won, it would have been perfect,” Williams said. “We’re growing as teammates together. And every race we do together, and every sprint we’re in together, we just learn a little bit more about each other. And tonight was just a season of knowing what each other’s going to do.”
Valente (Sho-AirTwenty20 team) was riding in her first Twilight Criterium. Despite admitting the heat was brutal, Valente, 22, had nothing but good things to say about Boise.
Valente said her team came prepared with ice vests and ice socks; that heat was not enough to burn out her spirits or enthusiasm.
“This is my first time in Idaho and Boise,” Valente said. “It’s great. I like it. The community is great, and everybody that I’ve met has just been nice and very supportive of this event.”
Earlier in the day, Daniel Edgar won the category 4-5 race, Tom Baird won the men’s masters race, Ingrid Smallman won the women’s 2-3-4 race, Timmy Bauer won the men’s 1-2-3 race while Jerry Young won the paracycle race.