Criterium | The NASCAR of Cycling

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- A Criterium or Crit is a short cycling race taking place on a looped course of about a mile and a quarter lasting anywhere from one to two hours. Here in the U.S. you're bound to see a professional or amateur crit race, like the one set for here in Knoxville, taking place just about every weekend.
The neat thing about Criterium is that from a logistical standpoint only a small stretch of road needs to be closed for a short period of time and it's great for the fans who can watch a lot of fast paced action adding to the spectacle and atmosphere says Angie Wilson of Visit Knoxville," To see a pack of cyclist come through at a speed that is amazing and to see that tight knit group of cyclist."

Top head power is important—but if you don't position well, you'll be wasting a lot of energy breaking and accelerating in and out of corners, which could leave you exhausted and without a lot of strength for the final sprint says Pro Andrew Shimizu,"Exactly, positioning is key in Criterium, you want to be up in the front out of the back where all the whiplash tends to happen."

It's more about cornering, technique and efficiency—wait a second that sounds like NASCAR—I guess you could say it's like NASCAR on bikes. In fact, Shimizu who's here in Knoxville from California agrees, "Criterium is unique in that it is more of an American style of racing yeah it is kind of like a NASCAR, it's fast it's not as long as a Tour De France stage, but it is equally as exciting and a great spectator sport I would say."

So what did we learn? Corners, crashes and crowds, Yep, that's NASCAR. Crit racing wrapped up all in a span of a couple hours.

All the fun on Gay street in downtown Knoxville on Friday begins with the Para-Cycling race at 4:45pm with time trials and the Crit race to follow.