How to make a criterium easy?

Criterium Rule #1:  Start on the front row at the start

Criterium Rule #2:  Stay in the top 25% of the pack

Criterium Rule #3:  If you are not in the top 25%, move your ass up!

Here is the reason for the rules.  First, the race does not happen in the back, so if you want to be in the race you need to be up where the action is happening.  If you are up front, you can attack, bridge a break, know who is in the break, but most importantly you will be taking it easy. 

Why easy?  The accordion effect is less up front so you will use less energy and save your matches for when you need to or want to attack.  The top 25% of the pack does not slow down much for the corner and goes through the corner much faster.  While the people in the other 75% are slowing down and sprinting out of every corner just to stay up.  The drafting effect of the pack is minimized by the accordion effect. 

Here is how this happens.  As the pack enters a corner it slows which compresses the pack.  The first few riders have the best line through the corner and are able to take the corner at full speed.  Each of the following riders have less of view of the corner, and as such, they let up on the pedals which slows them down slightly.  The next few riders will try going around the coasting riders which makes the pack wider as it tries to go through the corner.  Obviously the first few riders went through the corner one or two wide and took the best line.  The riders going through the pack three or four wide will be much slower.  As you go to the back of the pack, you will find riders having to brake before they enter the corner.  This accordion effect is worse on tight corners or greater than 90 degree corners.  Then as the front riders leave the corner, they accelerate away causing the pack to expand again.  If you ride on the back of the pack, you will be spending your time practicing your sprinting for 60 minutes, if you last that long.  By the time that the rear rider starts braking for the corner the lead rider will have already reached their top speed way up the road.  The result is that the rear riders have to accelerate at a higher speed than the lead riders.  Let me say this in a different way, the front riders are doing the same laps times as the rear riders, but they are doing the laps while holding a more constant speed.  The riders at the rear are sprinting to a much higher speed out of each corner but their speed is going up and down at each corner. 

The riders in the back of the pack are the definition of pack fill.  They don’t know what is happening in the race.  They are struggling just to stay on the wheel in the front of them.  Basically, they are paying the prize money for the riders who are actually racing up front. 

Ride Fast,

Steve