photo by Karl Richeson
“We wanted to take criterium bike racing to the next level and build a successful series of races that increase public awareness of the sport,” say Gene Dixon, executive director of the USA CRITS Championship Series, now in its ninth great year.
To that end, the concept behind the USA CRITS Championship Series is similar to the Formula One car race series. Both establish a points system and set of rules to which all participants must comply. This year’s USA CRITS season consists of nine races, known as criteriums, held throughout the United States and Canada on public roads in towns and cities where spectators can enjoy the racing action, as well as the ambiance and amenities that the area offers. The results of each race are evaluated using a points system that, when totaled at the end of the season, determines participation in the USA CRITS Finals. This year, the finals will take place on Sept. 6 in St. Louis, Mo.
The points system is based on participation, consistency, sprinting and finishing placement. Riders can earn as many as 350 points in a single race. In a nutshell, start points are awarded to all riders who contend the race, and again to all who finish the race based on their placement. The winning rider earns 200 points while lowest placing riders receive 50 points. Additional points are awarded for each lap a rider leads throughout the race. Sprint points can be earned at the beginning, middle and with five laps to go. It is the total number of points accumulated throughout the race series that ultimately decides who will compete in the USA CRITS Finals.
Dixon predicts “big things ahead” for the USA CRITS. “We’re now streaming races in a big way. We’ve been doing it seriously for two or three years and we’re seeing the audience climb. In the future, the public will be able to follow the entire USA CRITS series online.”
As the last race before the finals, the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series takes on added importance for riders aiming for a slot in the finals. It also makes for some of the most exciting racing of the entire season.