For many, Athens Twilight marks the beginning of the Criterium Season in America. For others, Athens is also basically the World Championship of criteriums. It's fast, late and draws tens of thousands of screaming fans. Criteriums are fast, raced typically on closed courses on city streets, and measure under 1 mile in length. They require great handling skills, confident cornering and the ability to sprint over and over and over again. When it comes to Athens, all these skills must be fine-tuned and peaking if you want to land on the podium.
So how do you hone these skills? We spoke with Stages Athletes Kevin Mullervy, of Team Clif Bar, who won a prior edition of Athens and rode his way to fourth in the 2018 race, and The Meteor Intelligentsia team, which found itself on this year's podium to give you...
the ULTIMATE Top Crit Tips.
1.Warm up well!
The Meteor Intelligentisa says, "Criterium racing is fast and furious, you've got to be ready to give it your all off the start line. Use your power meter to track pre race spin ups."
2. Caffeine or Sugar up.
The Meteor Intelligentisa says, "This is a must for before a crit; if that is in a Clif Shot, double espresso or gummy bear form, just make sure you feel ready! Just remember to not over do it!" Mullervy says, "30 min before the start I take a double expresso Clif shot energy gel and halfway through the race I take another."
The race can be crazy. Your heart is pounding, the fans are screaming. You're racing in twilight and all the lights are on you. Mullervy Says, "When you get in a break use your Dash to pace yourself. It’s easy to get too excited about the crowd and push too hard too early and blow up before the finish."
4. Stay at the front but not on the front.
Mullervy says, "Be in a position in the field where you don’t have to use your brakes into corners. STAY NEAR THE FRONT, not on the front."The Meteor Intelligentisa adds, "Track how much effort you're exerting while trying to stay in the top 10 wheels, a glance at your computer now and again allows you to know when to reign it in a bit if you need to. Always make sure you can still track the moves going up the road."
5. Be smart, lazy, calm & patient.
The strongest person doesn't always win. Mullervy says, "Let someone else take you towards the front If you drift back. Someone else is always trying to move up on the outside, so take their wheel and make them do the work."
6. Be confident in your cornering.Stick it. Send it. And know the line. Don't panic and learn how to use your breaks, or not use them. The Meteor Intelligentsia says, "If the person in front of you is making it around the corner then you are too. Railing the corners and being technically able is a big part of being a great crit racer. Practice it!"
7. BE CALM IN THE CHAOS!
They say rubbing is racing. But really, this is a race, and things happen. Mullervy says, "If a crash happens behind you DON’T look back, the race is in front of you." But also, don't forget to take that free lap.
8. Be serious but not too serious.
The Meteor Intelligentsia says, "Criterium racing is all about the atmosphere; enjoy it while you can! Be serious and get down to business when you need to but try to take in the environment around you and use it to motivate you to success." Mullervy adds, "HAVE FUN! For most of us, this is not a JOB, so don’t stress about it."