ANSWERS TO ALL YOUR CRIT QUESTIONS
Team CLIF Bar and LA Sweat are in the middle of an exciting National Racing Calendar (NRC) crit season, and they’ve got all the info you need to know about racing crits. Both teams train and race on Stages Dash and Stages Power meters to help them get the best results possible.
HOW DO CRITERIUMS DIFFER FROM ROAD RACES? WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES?
Kevin Mullervy, TCB: The most significant difference between criterium racing and road racing is that criterium racing is shorter in time and distance. Most pro/1 category criteriums are 1.5 hours in the US and are run on closed downtown courses with laps of 1k or less. In criterium racing there aren’t feed zones, caravans or pee breaks; it's full-on racing for the entire race. Road racing, a lot of the time, is a point-to-point race; while crit racing is multiple laps, and the first one across the line in 1.5 hours is the winner. Criterium crowds get to watch the racers come by every 45-90 seconds over and over again; and in a road race, you may only see the riders one time for 10 seconds as the point to point race goes by.
WHAT TACTICS ARE INVOLVED IN CRIT RACING? WHAT DOES A PRE-RACE MEET LOOK LIKE, WHAT IS DISCUSSED THERE?
Conor Mullervy, TCB: The whole team is going into the race with one goal and it takes the whole team's effort in order to accomplish this. This can be protecting the overall leader in the series on the team or racing all in for the sprinter. Depending on what the course is like we will then discuss who will be covering moves during the race and also if it comes down to a sprint who we are leading out.
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: Before a race we will discuss the course, the road quality. the potential moves from other teams and each rider's goal and role for the race.
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE THE TECHNICAL PARTS OF CRITS?
Zack Allison, TCB: After doing it for over a decade the cornering and tactics become second nature; but newer riders definitely benefit from practicing cornering and can also attend practice crits during the week in many parts of the country.
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: Parking lots are a great place for technical skills like tight corners, but riding in group rides and packs really helps with racing close to people.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DURING THE START PHASE OF A RACE, BEFORE SPRINT CLASSIFICATIONS AND AT THE END?
Joe Lewis, TCB: Stay up front, stay up front and stay up front - and don’t lose the wheel!
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: Staging is key, There isn't always a sprint classification in crits. it's the race before the race.
Conor Mullervy, TCB: In the beginning of a race, you need to make sure you have all the breakaway guys ready to cover moves or attack off the front. When you are getting to the middle of the race you need to make sure all your guys are near the front and riding together. With 10 laps to go we need all of our riders together and working to keep our sprinter or leader near the front and out of the wind. We need to all be in the top 15 positions here in order to get a result at the finish.
CAN YOU SHARE IMPORTANT AND USEFUL DETAILS ABOUT SPRINTING FOR PRIMES AND SPRINTING AT THE FINISH OF A RACE?
Kevin Mullervy, TCB: If you plan on sprinting at the end of the race, you need to make sure not to spend a ton of energy during the race or going for primes. Since we don't know when a prime will be in a race, I decide how to react to primes as they come. If I’m in a good position and feeling solid I’ll go for the right prime; but I recommend not spending a ton of energy if you are in the wrong spot when they ring the prime bell.
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: In sprinting positioning means everything and following the right wheels.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RIDING IN A ROAD RACE AND CRITERIUM PELOTONS?
Joe Lewis: Size, speed and stress level.
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: There isn't a big difference. A crit just has more corners.
WHAT PARTS OF CRITERIUM RACING DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: The crowds and community aspect. Crits allow for great spectating and fans.
Kevin Mullervy: I enjoy being able to visit towns that have vibrant energy. USA CRITS are usually in downtowns filled with locals spectating. I enjoy meeting and talking to the fans and getting to know their town better. I love trying new restaurants and exploring the cities after the race.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THIS SEASON?
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: This year it has been actually having a season and being able to see each other after almost 2 years.
Conor Mullervy: Being able to be with my teammates again and do what we love most, criteriums!
DESCRIBE THE ENVIRONMENT ENERGY AT A BIG, DOWNTOWN USA CRITS EVENT.
Kelli, Samuleson, LA Sweat: A lot of race venues will have food trucks and beer gardens, the streets are lined with spectators and people from the community out and about. It's like a block party around a bike race.
Zack Allison: The energy at big downtown twilight crits is wild. Thousands of cheering fans. It feels like in that moment people in the US do want to consume bike racing!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIKE SET UP.
Team CLIF: Team CLIF is on VYNL bikes with the aluminum disc frames. Shimano Ultegra Di2 components; complete ENVE package from cockpit to fork to wheels; Maxxis tires; Stages power and Stages Dash - pretty much the best crit machine we can put together.
LA Sweat: Specialized SL7 Tarmac, Sram force etap, Hunt carbon wheels, S-works turbo tires, Stages Dash computer.