When the start gun fired at the inaugural San Francisco Twilight Criterium on September 13th, the pro women's race posted an incredible lineup that included Olympians and national champions.

SF Twilight20080913_4565 by kwc.

Photo by Ken Conley https://kwc.org/cycling/

Two-time Olympian and 2004 National U.S. Time Trial Champion Christine Thorburn (Webcor) who placed 5th in this summer's Olympic Time Trial, made 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 was Gina Grain, a member of the Canadian Olympic Team, 2007 Canadian National Road Champion and 2008 U.S. Open Track Omnium Champion.

Included in the lineup with Webcor were Kat Carroll (Aaron's), Shelley Olds (Proman), Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine), and Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine).

According to Andy Ball, president of Webcor Builders and owner of Webcor Cycling Team, the team was thrilled at the prospect of racing on their home turf

"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 expected the San Francisco Twilight to be a big draw, too."

Attacks began as soon as the race began. Liz Hatch (Vanderkitten) started the first attack only to be brought back by the main group. It was not until Van Gilder (Cheerwine), Olds (Proman), Carroll (Aaron's), Ruiter (ValueAct) and Thorburn (Webcor) broke out in front did the peloton see a successful break. The break worked together until Kat Carroll pulled out in front with about 30 minutes to go. Carroll tried to put the race away early.

Kat Carroll Breaks Free by kwc.

Carroll escapes from lead break group.
Photo by Ken Conley

"I was out there for a long time, but I guess I was not out long enough," Carroll stated while laughing. "It was pretty windy out there tonight. The hill took a little bit out of me every time. It was tough to be out there alone."

At one point in the race Carroll had a 30 second lead on the breakaway group. "It's the end of the year and I just gave it my all." Carroll will be joining Team Tibco in 2009. The lead group was able to consistently cut down the time gap and with 6 laps to go caught a very tired Carroll.

Shelley Olds SF Twilight20080912_4263-1 by kwc.

Thorburn (Webcor), Olds (Proman) and Ruiter (ValueAct) on the attack
Photo by Ken Conley

"The second time Carroll attacked we didn't really react, but I knew it would be tough to be out there by yourself because it was pretty windy and there was a hill," said Olds. "I wasn't sure if she was going to come back to us but I kept hearing the gap time dropping. We were coming up to Kat but at the same time the peloton was catching us. We wanted to stay away."

"Christine drove it with 2 laps to go. I was right there on her wheel. I didn't have to get mixed up in the pack at all. I just stayed right with her. With one lap to go Webcor attacked at the last turn, Aaron's pulled them back. Van Gilder attacked at the top of the hill and I decided to go with her. I just stuck on her wheel, which was great to have since it was so windy." Olds finishes her road season and will begin her track racing.

Olds pulled around Van Gilder for the win with Benjamin coming in third.

SF Twilight20080913_4729 by kwc.

Photo by Ken Conley