- - Jesse Anthony: Ten Tips to Improve Crit Racing

Jesse Anthony: Ten Tips to Improve Crit Racing

Fine-tuning: “I usually do some short sprints and frequent acceleration workouts to get used to the undulating pace in criteriums. Without this, it can be something of a shock to your system, so it definitely pays to polish up your high-end speed.”

The mental approach: “You really do need to be in the right frame of mind to ride a crit effectively. There is no time to ride into it and warm up in the race; you have to be focused and prepared for the task ahead. During the race, I focus on not getting hurt. There are many opportunities to get into trouble in a short and intense crit. If I stay safe, I will provide more effective help to the team’s sprinter at the finish or for myself if given the chance.”

The final countdown: “I usually do a set of lung and leg ‘openers’ the day before any race—some near maximum bursts. And since most of our crits are in the afternoon or evening, I will go for a short ride in the morning. It’s very important to be both opened up and warmed up physically for a crit.”

Rolling stock: “I like running the HED Stinger 6 wheels in crits with Challenge Strada tires. That’s a really fast setup with plenty of grip for the tight corners. Otherwise, I run the same bike and setup as I do for the road and training—changing positions or setup could lead to physical problems.”

Fuel for the fire: “You’ve got to be fueled up well for a crit. Even though it’s short, you use a lot of energy. I also take a few Clif Shots with me and carry Clif electrolyte mix in my bottles. It’s really important to keep the sugar levels up.”

Starter for 10: “Your start position can make or break you in some crits. I always try to get a good start position, and that’s usually more important than a good warmup. Get in the right gear to get away fast, be focused on the best lines for the initial half a lap, and be alert and on the ball with the starter—and try and get well to the fore without over-cooking things too much.”

Where to ride: “Obviously there are so many variables on this one, but the best place to ride the majority of crits is between 15 to 25 guys back. Some crits are easy to sit in further back in the field, but then you’re more susceptible to crashes. If a circuit is very technical or wet, then you need to try and stay a little closer to the front, as things can split and accidents can happen. This is more important in an amateur race, where riders may be a little less experienced and abilities vary more.”

Rehearse your lines: “I always do at least a lap or two of a crit course before I race in order to get a feel for the different lines. Then, in the race, I try to stay safe, hold my position and find the fastest side of the pack to ride on. Sometimes the inside line through a turn is faster, or sometimes you can carry more speed on the outside and reduce the depth of the accelerations. Start at the front and work on being smooth and saving energy. Often riders get caught up in fighting for position and waste energy by taking bad lines and/or chopping other riders in the pack. Give an inch, gain a mile.”

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