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</tr> </table> A criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city center streets.
Race length can be determined by a total time or a number of laps, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses. Generally the event's duration (commonly one hour) is shorter than that of a traditional road race — which can last many hours, sometimes over the course of several days or even weeks, as in a Grand Tour. However, the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been "lapped."
Events often have prizes (called primes, pronounced "preems", and are usually cash) for winning specific intermediate laps (for instance, every 10th lap). A bell is usually rung to announce to the riders that whoever wins the next lap, wins the prime.
Success in road criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly, while "holding your line" on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply — and riding safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional "sprint" ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.
Criteriums are relatively easy to organize, do not require a large amount of space, and are good for live spectators as they allow them to see the riders pass by many times. They are the most common type of bicycle racing in the continental United States. They are also gaining popularity as a format for mountain bike events.
Flanders (Belgium) hosts a number of criteriums, as does the Netherlands. The most notable of these are held just after the Tour de France. However, criteriums in Europe or mostly held in the format of a points-race. First, second, and third rider at every 5th lap gets 3, 2, 1 points respectively (with double points at final endsprint). It was a long tradition that after the Tour these criteriums were fixed to have favourable results for the organisers.
Racing bicycles used for criteriums are typically no different than those used in other mass-start road events. However, some criterium racers will choose bicycles with:
Training for criterium racingEdit
Criterium racing places considerable stress on bicycle and rider for any given race; however the pace and training requirements vary depending upon the classification.
Within the UK, Elite and Cat 1+2 riders generally race together and Cat 3+4+W separately; however individual events will vary.
Within the USA, the Men's Field (Pro + Cat 1 + Cat 2, and sometimes Cat 3) generally race together, Cat 3's often have their own races, and Cat 4/5 Men race together. In addition, there are a variety of Masters categories which can be raced. The Women typically have two separate races, the P/1/2 (3) and the 3/4.
The races will also vary depending upon how many people from separate teams enter, which will impact whether it will be a "free-for-all" or a team-focused event.
Experienced and successful riders often spend 15 hours or more training per week, while beginners tend to race with less preparation to gain experience and fitness.
Riders use a range of training equipment:
Criterium racing requires specific training to boost power output and minimize heart rate recovery time, as well as sprinting capability, general stamina, race craft and mechanical preparation.
There are three broad categories for bicycle race training:
For the first time rider, race craft may be most determinative of the outcome if one is not strong enough to ride solo off the front of the peloton. In this case, the rider will have to stay in the pack and choose a placement to balance the available energy and strength; the ideal placement is often somewhere between the 10th and 20th rider, which: