Bicycle Racing

What types of road races are there?


A criterium or "crit," such as the Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium, is the most common form of mass-start, road racing in the United States. The criterium takes place on a closed course one mile or less in length. The loop is repeated, and the race tends to last 30-90 minutes, depending on the skill level of the riders. These races usually have a faster overall speed than the road races.


A stage race can last a few days or up to a few weeks. Each day, the racers ride a different course; the races that make up a stage race may include road races, criteriums, and time trials. The courses may be long or short, flat or hilly, or a combination. The athlete with the greatest overall ability to sprint, climb, and just persevere, will fare the best in a stage race. The Tour de France and other European Grand Tours such as the Tour d'Italia or The Tour of Spain are stage races.


The circuit is a mass start, one day event. It usually consists of a 5-25 mile repeating loop. The T-Mobile San Francisco Grand Prix is a circuit race with a total distance of 108.1 miles (men) 51.6 miles (women).


The time trial is a race in which the individual or team races against the clock. These are not mass-start races. Racers often ride aerodynamic bikes, add equipment to their bikes, and don aerodynamic clothes to make themselves faster. The course length varies from 10 miles at the local level to 40 kilometers (just under 25 miles) at the state or national level, with average speeds near 30 miles per hour for the elite men. Time trials tend to benefit endurance riders