Criterium Courses

 The course that criteriums are run on can make a drastic difference in your performance from race to race.  One weekend you might have no problem hanging in and racing, but then the next weekend you might be suffering the whole time and get dropped.  The more technical the course the hard it will be, and the more important it will be to stay up front.  Each of my examples below show why it is important to get up front from the start and stay up front.  There are only a few courses that I have raced on where you can hang out in the back all day until you want to attack.  The more racers in the race the hard the race will be at the back and the better it will be at the front.

 I took a couple of course description from http://www.tourofamericasdairyland.com/  This a great race series that started up last year in Wisconsin and will be part of http://usacrits.com also this year.  I will be there racing and hope you can make it also.   The course below might look easy but the corners 1+2 and 3+4 are close  together and the finish is a long way from corner #4.  Basically, you will be finishing one corner and starting another.  The top 5-10 guys will be flying through while everyone else will be doing two major VO2 max efforts to catch back on after number #2 and #4.  http://www.tourofamericasdairyland.com/schedule/appleton-description.php     

TOAD Appleton course

  The course below I have done many times and is a favorite race of mine:  Downers Ave.  The course has been run in Superweek for many years and now is run two times each year once in Superweek and one time in TOAD.  It is a great course the brings out a lot of spectators.   http://www.tourofamericasdairyland.com/schedule/milwaukee-description.php.          

TOAD Downer Ave

 

 

The first corner in Downers Ave is no problem anymore.  There used to be a road sign in the middle of the road right at the beginning of the best arc through the corner, but this is gone now. The course is pancake flat but has one 135 degree corner that is a killer if you are in the back.  The first few guys can take the corner at full speed, but the pack slows quickly.  The accordion effect is huge along the long back stretch.  In a Pro12 race with an average speed of 30 mph, this will beat you up after a few laps.  The picture below is me in the blue helmet picking up after corner number #2. I ended up on top of a big pile in a pro12 field….rushing to get a free lap so that I can get back on;Picking up after a crash after corner number 2.  

Picking up after a crash after corner number 2.

 Same corner:  [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIzVN7X19Ps&feature=related]

The course below is a great example of a technical crit that will quickly sheer racers off of the back.  A large field will be whittled down to half after about 40 minutes as guys are shelled off the back.  http://www.tourofamericasdairyland.com/schedule/waukesha-description.php   I have done this race a few times but the course has changed many times.  There is a slight elevation change on the laps which adds to the fatigue.            

TOAD Waukesha

  CRIT RULE NUMBER ONE:  Start at the front and stay in the top 10.  This does not mean that you pull the field around or chase down every attack, but you fight to stay up front and hold your position.   The fight in the back is much worse!  When you are ready to attack or sprint you are less tired than everyone else.       

Ride Fast        

Steve