In this post I will compare power data from the five criteriums I have raced this year.
For those of you who don’t follow cycling too closely, a criterium is a popular type of bike race in the United States. They are raced on a closed loop approximately one mile in length. Early laps are timed by the officials and ’5 laps to go’ is displayed at the proper time to have the race finish at about the one hour mark. Courses range from technical downtown figure eights to wide open office parks.
Winning a criterium takes technical cornering skills, confidence, and tenacity. Also as we can see in the 60 second moving average wattage plots below, knowing when to rest and when to work is crucial.
In two of the above races I was alone (Louisville) or in a small group (Sandstone) ahead of the main field. In these plots you can see the high, steady power output in the middle of the races (around 300w). The other three races ended in a sprint finish amongst the pack.
It is no surprise that among the sprint finishes, Wheels of Thunder was my best placing (3rd place). My average watts during the first 50 minutes was a very low 216w, and the final 10 minutes at 275w. Compare this to the Groove crit (10th place) at 282 watts for the first 50 minutes, and 263w for the final 10 minutes. This shows the importance of staying fresh for a sprint finish.
Later on I will go into further detail on the anatomy of a successful breakaway, and the finer points of a sprint finish.