World tour vs Criterum races

Hi all,

I’m binge watching the criterium races from NorCal Cycling in youtube and a question raised to me.

If Peter Sagan were in that race, would he destroy everyone from minute one? Or should he consider strategies like the other cyclists?

What about a world tour climber, like Contador in his prime? Would he destroy everyone?


You can get some indication of the answer by watching Travis McCabe in the Tour of California and other pro road races. He’s a national champion in the pro criterium, and has had varying degrees of success in road races. He came really close to beating Sagan in a sprint in California, but that also might be the best result of his career. Generally I think he’d be happy to be in the top 10 of a world tour bunch sprint.

And no shade on the NorCal Cat 1s, but I think McCabe would beat them pretty handily if given the opportunity.

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World Tour races are harder than racing criteriums and the world Tour attracts the best athletes. But don’t assume someone like Sagan could just ride away from a top national level crit field in the US. i don’t think a national level crit gives too much away on the last hour of a grand tour sprint stage. While the guys winning top crits in the US might not be able to race 4 hours for 6 days in a row then sprint, the fast guys can sprint as fast or faster than Sagan after 90 minutes racing once or twice a week. Sagan would of course be a star but he would not win every race.

Now, if Sagan was in the typical race Norcalcycling is posting videos of, he’d do better than in a top national race but, he still would not win 100% of the time. His strengths (endurance plus a sprint) would be blunted a bit in a 60-90 minute race plus even great sprinters end up out of position now and then and get beat by slower guys,

In a crit, no. In a road race at that level that was decided by a 10+ minute climb - yes

This is a great example, and I’d add Alex Howes on the flip side.

He’s 180cm and 61kg at 31 years old racing world tour. 10 years ago he won US U23 Road AND Crit Nationals as a scrawny 21 year old.

Look at the Axeon boys on the national scene or any of the skinny teenagers tearing it up in Boulder or Bend with the Cat 1s. From looking at them you’d hardly believe the numbers they can push.

If you’ve got a world class motor you’re going to be just fine in a criterium in the US and can probably pull off a win on a good day.

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Just go watch the Bay Crits from Australia when Caleb Ewan is racing. It’s still competitive and he’s by no means a shoe-in to win and cannot get away with poor tactics, but he certainly is always at the pointy end.

Crits are an interesting race because even being incredibly strong you can get schooled by a group of weaker riders riding strong as a team. The team tactics can isolate someone in a hurry and leave them in a precarious spot for a bunch sprint which is never a sure thing.

Thank you all for your answers.

From your responses, I think it’s pretty clear that the Crit races are just different.

I’ll look into the crits that you recommend.

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I personally took out trainer road for the sole purpose of not getting dropped at crits. I have no interest in racing for more than an hour and I would even prefer a day with a few 20 minute races to the 45 minute ones I do at the moment. (I still get dropped in 5 minutes, so it doesn’t matter much at this point in time :slight_smile: )

I think criteriums make good watching as well, similar to F1 but back in the days where engines used to blow up!

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Lawson craddock races at our weekly crit series. he’s easily the strongest. he doesn’t win on purpose… hes nose breathing while we’re hunched over.

I’ve tried following his wheel and it’s sucks. But it’s pretty damn cool to say you lined up next to a WT racer.