Cycling Criterium Racing

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A criterium or a crit as it is sometimes known as, is a short cycling race around a closed circuit.
The circuit is usually somewhere between 1km and 5km is length and generally is closed off from other street traffic.
Criterium's are usually raced as either a time duration or a number of laps of the circuit.
For time duration races, a time limit is set plus an additional 1-3 laps.
For example a crit stating that it is 45 mins + 3 laps, means that the racers will ride the circuit for around 45 minutes and then complete 3 more laps to determine the winner.
The race referee will blow a whistle at the end of a time period and ring a bell with 1 lap to go.
Because of the frequent turns and high speeds, bike handling ability is vitally important during a criterium.
To successfully race and win criteriums, riders need a good balance between bicycle handling skills, explosive power to close gaps and accelerate out of corners as well as a fast final sprint.
The rider must also have good tactical knowledge to make sure they place themselves in the field correctly to win the race.
Criterium races usually start quickly, particularly on tight technical course where all riders are trying to place up the front of the bunch before the first corner.
It is important that you can get moving quickly, clip you foot into your pedal quickly and efficiently and be accelerating with the rest of the bunch.
Practise clipping you feet into your pedals quickly, without looking.
You need your foot clipped in a be out of the saddle building up speed within 10-15 meters after the start.
During the race, try to position yourself in the top one third of riders.
From this spot you are not at the very front of the group where you will be using a lot of energy, nor are you toward the back where you may miss critical moves by other riders.
On tight circuits, gasp will open up in the group through the corners as the bunch "stretches".
By staying near the front of the group you avoid being caught in these gaps and wasting energy closing them.
The last lap, you will need to be extra cautious as this is usually where the "Sprinters" will try to position themselves for the last dash to the line.
If you are not a fast sprinter, you may still have the opportunity to follow one the faster wheels through to the finish line.
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