To create excitement during the race, the promoter will often have prime laps (pronounced “preem”) during the race. Primes are usually cash or merchandise prizes that an individual racer can receive by winning that specific lap. This encourages aggressive ridding and keeps the race at a very fast pace. Racers do not know in advance which laps are primes. They are typically announced as the race leaders approach the start finish line by the race announcer.
Success in a criterium can depend on a variety of factors...the strongest rider does not always win. Winning requires a mix of good bike handling skills, experience, strength, willingness to suffer and teamwork. Much like auto racing, drafting plays a big part in bicycle racing. The racer tucked into the slipstream of another racer is using about 30% less energy that the racer that is “in the wind”. This is where a strong team and team tactics come into play. As well, due to the nature of these events and their intensity, there can be crashes. No rider wants to be part of a crash or “road rash”, but certainly accepts those risks. Therefore, crashes and luck also play a role in success or failure.
A team of racers will often designate one person as the protected rider for that race. His teammates will do all of the work (ie allow the protected racer ride behind them to conserve energy) so that he can be fresh at the end of the race. The team will also initiate “attacks” on the field. This is when one rider takes off from the pack in the hopes that competing teams will have to work hard to bring him back to the field. Through the course of the race, there will be a series of attacks and catches until either the attacking rider successfully gains enough advantage over the field that they do not get caught or the field comes to the finish line in a bunch sprint. It is the sprint finish that ultimately brings the greatest excitement…… and sprint finishes under lights at night in downtown High Point will be second to none.
For the Spectators:
A criterium, or crit, is a high speed, intense, bike race typically held on a short (less than 5K) closed-off city street loop. Race length is determined by using a combination of time, laps, and race category. Race times generally range from 30 to 60 minutes. At the half way time point of the race, officials calculate the average speed of the race, and then convert to a countdown of laps. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been "lapped."
Races are held in a variety of categories. Mens and womens categories range from Pro down through category , or as we lake to say Cat 1 to Cat 5. An individual racer moves up the category rankings by gaining points and experience in their current category. Races can also be held using a combination of age and category. USA Cycling sets the guidelines and requirements for each category.
For the Participants:
The "Crit" courses will be run on closed streets in the heart of downtown High Point, with the start finish at the IHFC bus terminal canopy each day. The courses are undulating with several high speed turns and smooth road surfaces. To provide variety and excitement, the course on Friday will be totally different from the course on Saturday. The only constant is the start finish…….but from different directions.
For the first time in North Carolina, both criterium races will be scored utilizing Chip timing…NASCAR style. Accurate results, and individual lap times, will be available by the time racers are finished with their cool down laps.