Crits positioning HELP!

i have just completed my third crit race. While the first two were fields were only 10-15, i was able to save energy. Last nights race had a field of 40 and found everyone a lot aggressive. It came down to a bunch sprint were i was unable to complete. Analysing the race i felt that i burnt too many matches constantly moving up the field on the outside. I do not know the etiquette on racing in a group and know no tips on moving up a field. Any tips would be much appreciated and also any things that people that do in a race that you find dangerous or non sportsmen like. PLEASE HELP!!!


Don’t give up position, and try to find places on the course to move up without spending too much energy.

Don’t chase every attack.

If you’re not moving up, you’re probably moving backwards.

Finally, everything I’ve said goes out the window when the race starts. You just have to race a lot. Learning to read the race comes with practice.


I feel you… Its so different each race too, you just had to feel the field.

I was just in a race with 100 peeps starting, its a constant wave of fighting for positions… Every turn the accordion effects was insane, just went i thought i get back to the main group, people are getting drop left and right and I have to fight back to the main group.
In the end it was futile, rows of bodies were getting dropped, and I burnt to many matches chasing the main group because of the wide gap people were leaving.

My main lesson was, specially if its a big race (like this one) and if you feel like you have the fitness… Expend a lot of energy the first 5-10 min of the race to get near the front. The discrepancy of fitness are so wide in large field. There’s people from 350-200 ftp in the field and you dont know who can keep up even if they’re drafting. When I looked at the people that finished the race in the main group, their watt expenditure was not outside of my FTP.

Just keep on racing and learning, its not always the highest FTP that wins, its the savy one most of the time!

1 Like

When you say dangerous, what do you mean?

With regards to sportsmanship, you have to remember that it’s a race. Unless you’re in a team, nobody will be looking to do you any favours. Crit racing is tough for many reasons and sometimes it’s a case of just surviving for 90% of the field.

Agreed! You can be sitting stationary to the riders around you, but one rider across the field you may not even see moving up just pushed you back one place. I recommend trying to move forward a rider or two fairly regularly to keep your position in the group, rather than waiting to notice that “hey, I’m near the back!” before moving up. You’ll expend a lot less physical energy that way. It takes practice though and is more mentally tiring always looking to move up, but it is worth it.

1 Like

Riding the perfect criterium is all about doing as little work as possible.

Use momentum, don’t brake if possible when everyone else is

Stay in the top 20, the accordion effect isn’t as great at the front and you will notice a MASSIVE difference

But, more than anything, relax, race your own race and have fun.

1 Like

I think it’s OK to give up position to save energy depending on the course, your strengths and how you think it will unfold.

If the race constantly fans out and slows down and you aren’t trying to get in a break and think it’s going to end in a sprint I think it’s totally OK to tail gun it and just put all the effort in during the last 2-3 laps.

If the race is going to be constantly strung out, there’s going to be a break away, etc, then positioning really does help.

Check out my power file from the Cat 3 Crit I won on Sat.
“Time to Chill” is the first 41 minutes with an NP of 242 - That’s Baxter territory for me and I tail gunned the whole time. I watched for a breakaway but nothing got very far up the road.

“Time to work!” is the last 9 minutes of the race. We had about 3 laps to go and I bridged to a breakaway and then stayed at the front of the field. NP 367. So that’s a 140 watt difference just by where I am and how hard I’m fighting plus the ending sprint.


i am just finding a few thing contradictive. i always hear hold your line and don’t overlap wheels. Wouldnt you have to disregard both of them to move up? also if there is kind of a gap you want to move into and you are half bike length in front of the rider next to you, is it ok to squeeze them for the wheel? I feel like I’m driving a car not knowing the road rules. i am most probably over thinking everything. Probably just need to be more assertive and a lot more experience racing.

Great effort! Interesting that the field let you go and did not catch back when it’s just 0.4 mph faster… Looking forward to the video analysis which is a great new format and addition!

you can throw down the usual mantras;

  • position is key
  • don’t ride on the front
  • if you’re not moving up you’re moving back
  • conserve energy
  • ride near the front

The problem is when stated individually to the inexperienced or the uninitiated some of these can be in violent. I find the most important linkage to draw between all of these is to use your energy when it is going to have the most impact and effect to get your goal accomplished. That MAY mean closing a gap down yourself at 600w to avoid missing the split, but it may also mean soft pedaling through the pack at 200w to move from 40th place to 10th because the gas just when out of the peloton and everyone is doing zero work.

Regarding etiquette, it’s important as no on wants to crash, but the timing of being polite is important to understand as well. Dive bombing corners from mid pack on Lap 2 of a 75min crit will get you some choice words at best, but one lap to go and fighting for top 5 is a totally different story. The same goes for contesting a sprint for 23rd place… it’s all situational dependent.

1 Like

Those 9 minutes were just mixing it up at the front in the final laps.

The last move came into a head wind after Jonathan pulled. I then soloed for about 50 seconds while the field chased.


i probably should of tail gun this race. i felt it was always going to end in a bunch sprint. i wasted a lot of energy moving up and then dropping back thinking i was saving energy at the front. i will try this for a few laps next race. thanks

  • List item

When people say hold your line, they’re just trying to tell you not to make sudden movements to either side, since there can be riders sitting there. This is especially important when cornering. If you do want to move over, then make sure to do a quick glance to your side and behind to make sure things are clear before moving over.

Which gets to your next point about not overlapping wheels. This is more about not overlapping the wheel of the rider directly in front of you and not so much about the rider(s) to the front and side of you. If you overlap the wheel of the rider directly in front of you and they swerve suddenly, you’re most likely going down. For riders to the front(ish) and side of you, don’t hesitate to reach out with your hand to guard your space if they start moving over. I don’t mean to hit them, but more like hold them off. Sometimes a little tap on their hip to let them know you’re there can be a good idea too.

As long as you do it safely, sure. You can do it even if there is already a rider fully in the space you want. If there is a gap (or isn’t), try moving over SLOWLY (you did look first, right?) and that can sometimes be enough for the rider to make room for you. A lot of beginning riders don’t feel comfortable bumping shoulders and elbows, so if you get too close, they’ll back off, which means you can use that fear to your advantage. You can also try reaching out with an extended hand to make your intentions clear you want to move in. However, if the rider won’t budge or closes the gap, you’re stuck where you’re at…until you’re experienced enough to over come even that. :slight_smile:

I had a rider attempt to force his way into the line of riders where I was at by giving me a few soft bumps of the shoulder. I ignored him and didn’t move, so he tried bumping a little harder. When I still didn’t move, I could see he was going to try even harder, so as he was moving over into me again, I gave him an even stronger shoulder bump back. He decided to try his luck on the rider behind me who easily gave up his position.

The key point though is, just don’t do anything stupid to cause a crash. Be careful, but also be assertive.


What I’m wondering is: With differences in speed as well as ability to go through a corner (gradients entering and exiting) among a bunch of riders…why is there no chaos and how are crashes avoided at best?

I guess you should hold the distance to the right and left border constant so that everybody keeps their place. But I’m concerned that some enter a corner too fast for their skill to hold that constant line…?

For me:

  • Reading the race/racers probably dictates how I race the race more than anything.
  • I ride close and don’t let the wheel in front surge ahead. Anticipate power applications (how/when to apply power is as important in the pack to conserve as absolute power).
  • Knowing your strengths and how they can play into your favor as they apply to the course is super important.
  • The more cornering required the more up front I ride.
  • Going to attack? Be able to keep it going after you go deep. Books are written about this so…race lots.:grin:
  • Respect goes a long ways. Choose teams, team mates, words/actions wisely. Getting people to work with you or maybe not against you when you get in the upper cats can be huge. Let your legs/lungs do the talking. Always stay calm. It will happen. :wink:
1 Like

Take a look at the last 10 or so laps from this race I was in last year. Definitely chaos, pushing, and fighting for position. That’s what makes it fun.


Hey, don’t beat yourself up :wink:

More experience :+1:
More assertive :+1:
Over thinking :rofl: I did this during my last crit and I kid-you-not, I went from 5/6 wheel to straight out the back in seconds. You never stop learning and sometimes that knowledge helps, sometimes you just over think and nothing gets done.

Take a look at the British Cycling Race Smart series of videos. They give lots of great tips for racing safely and efficiently😊

Race Smart

This. There are so many great tips posted here, but this might be the most useful. You’ll go in with all this knowledge, a plan, and preparation. But the moment your HR hits 170+, your legs are screaming, your breathing is labored, you’re cornering in the pack, and sprinting at every turn, your mind has a way of forgetting and going into survival mode.

It’s the development of comfort that makes racing more tactical and intentional. It might take you a little while to get comfortable taking lines with the group. You might take a bit to get used to the surges and knowing which wheels to follow/which attacks to chase down. The experiential part of racing is so key, and it’s something that develops over time.

As is echoed here often - go out and race. Every race is an opportunity to learn something new. And while we all want to have an outcome goal of winning/podium in every race, it’s often the process goal of learning tactics, power PRs, new strategies, and the such that are most valuable.

Also, @iracebikes - that race was beast mode. And demonstrated some really smart racing!

@Nate_Pearson - you’re a freaking beast, and this season is showing that.

1 Like

Patience is key. Especially in a 4/5 race. There is always going to be somebody looking to move up. When they do, jump on their wheel and let them do the work. If your not in a position to get on their wheel, relax and wait for the next person to make a move. It’s going to happen, just make sure you are in a position to take advantage of it.

There are a ton of crit racing videos on YouTube. I watch them while I’m doing my TR workouts. You can learn a lot from watching them.