Cyclingnews is proud to bring our readers The Bell Lap, a new series for 2018 featuring the highly-skilled, brave, talented racers who live, every week, for the criterium. We're not talking the post-Tour de France spectacles where the results are startlingly skewed toward Grand Tour winners. No, this is adrenaline-fuelled, elbows-out, stomping-on-the-pedals-out-of-every-turn American-style criterium racing.
The name of the series evokes the adrenaline-inducing sound indicating one lap to go and the addictive sensations that follow: Elbows hitting elbows, weight heavy on the outside foot as tyres push the limit of their grip in the turns, eyes keenly scanning for the right wheel - always moving forward and never back - and finally the rush of wind in your face as you come off the wheel to sprint - quads burning, lungs on fire - and lunge to the line.
We will be bringing you full coverage of the most important, most historic, most challenging races on the criterium circuit. In addition, we will have special video features by Elevate KHS sprinter Cory Williams giving you the spectacular in-race view from one of the best criterium racers on the continent. The video below is just a teaser of what you can expect to see.
Cyclingnews has created its own fictional series classification for The Bell Lap, with points awarded for the top men and women throughout the 16 events (19 race days).
The series will begin on April 28 with the Athens Twilight Criterium and concluded on September 15 at the Atlantic City Resurgence Fest Criterium in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Cyclingnews will award titles for the men and women who scored the most points.
The Bell Lap men's and women's titles will be awarded to the riders who score the most points over the course of the season in the final overall standings.
Our series adopts the FIA Formula 1 points system. Points will be awarded to the top 10 places of each criterium as follows: 1st place - 25 points; 2nd -18; 3rd - 15; 4th -12; 5th - 10; 6th - 8; 7th - 6; 8th - 4; 9th - 2; 10th - 1.
Any ties for position will be decided on results countback. The rider with superior race results (based on descending order, from the number of wins to the number of second places, and down) will be classified ahead.
April 28: Athens Twilight - Athens, Georgia (USA CRITS)
Women: 7:15 p.m. / Men: 8:30 p.m.
It's been dubbed both 'the most insane criterium in the world' and '38 years of road rash' yet racers target it every year by the hundreds. Gene Dixon founded the event in 1980 as the first nighttime race in the US. This year the Athens Orthopedic Twilight Criterium opens the USA CRITS series. The course start-finish line is on Clayton Street at College Ave. The 1km loop runs clockwise, all right-hand turns, onto Clayton, Lumpkin, Washington and Thomas streets. The women will race for 40km, and the men will race for 60km.
May 19: Rochester Twilight - Rochester, New York (PRT)
Women: 6:25 p.m. / Men: 8:30 p.m.
The fifth event on the PRT, Rochester Criterium has become a well-known race on the American circuit in the last 10 years. It is held on a 1.6km figure-8 course with nine corners that winds through the southeast corner of Rochester's downtown. The start-finish is located on East Broad Street, running along a bridge that passes over the top of the Genesee River. The women will compete for 60 minutes followed by the men for 100 minutes.
May 26: Winston Salem Classic Criterium - Winston Salem, North Carolina (PRT/USA CRITS)
Women / Men
The newest event of the series, Winston Salem Classic Criterium launched only six years ago. It is the first event of a double-header weekend that also includes the UCI 1.1 Winston Salem Cycling Classic. Organisers have changed the course over the years, and will soon announce the 2018 route, but it will likely take on a version of the most recent circuit; a short, rectangular loop that started and finished in the middle of a fast descent. The women's field will race for 75 minutes and the men for 90 minutes.
May 28: Tour of Somerville - Somerset, New Jersey
Women / Men
It is the most historic criterium in the US and known as "The Kentucky Derby of Cycling" - Tour of Somerville is part of a series of cycling events held in Somerset, New Jersey. Local bike store owner Fred Kugler started the event in 1940 and it has been held every year except the four years between 1943-1946 due to World War II. Kugler's son Furman won the first two editions and their family friend Carl Anderson won in 1942. Both men were killed while serving in the Armed Forces overseas. The race, held on Memorial Day Monday, gained huge popularity in the 1980s with Tour de France riders like Steve Bauer and Davis Phinney winning titles. The women's Mildred Kugler Open launched in 1976 with Karen Strong, Lauren van Gilder and Tina Pic winning it four times each.
June 8-10: Saint Francis Tulsa Tough Omnium, Tulsa, Oklahoma (PRT)
Blue Dome Criterium - Women 7:55p.m. / Men 8:50 p.m. CST
Brady Arts District Criterium - Women 6:50 p.m. / Men 7:55 p.m. CST
River Parks Criterium - Women 3:30 p.m. / Men 4:35 p.m. CST
The Tulsa Tough Criterium Omnium kicks off on Friday, June 8 at the Blue Dome Criterium. The figure-8 loop is 1.1km and has 25 feet of elevation gain per lap. The racing happens under the lights of Tulsa's lively Blue Dome entertainment district.
The Omnium will continue on Saturday with the Brady Arts District Criterium where the peloton will face an L-shaped, 1.4km loop. The course is undulating with a descent through the last corner before the finish line.
Tulsa Tough will conclude on Sunday with the River Parks Criterium where racers take on the famed Cry Baby Hill. Organisers say you'll see things you can't unsee; Tailgating, music and costumes that would make Mardi Gras blush! The course is routed along the Arkansas River on a 1.3km loop that includes 100 feet of climbing each lap.
June 9-10: Armed Forces Cycling Classic Omnium, Arlington, Virginia (PRT)
Clarendon Cup: Women 10:05 a.m. / Men 12:00 p.m.
Crystal City Cup: Women 10:30 a.m. / Men 12:00 p.m.
Clarendon Cup has been known as one of the craziest criteriums in its 20-year history. It's technically demanding on a short 1km, figure-8 circuit held on narrow city streets. It is also a race of attrition as the men race for 100 laps (100km). The women will race for 50 laps (50km). But it takes place in July's scorching summer heat, and organisers have occasionally been forced to bend criterium rules and open a feed zone to supply water for the health and safety of its participants. Organisers are offering an equal prize purse at $10,000 for both men's and women's events.
Racers will compete on less challenging course for the next day's Crystal City Cup. The 1.3km course runs up and down Crystal Drive between 23rd St S and 18th St S, and around South Clark, with wide-open and shaded streets. The women will race for 60 minutes and the men for 90 minutes. Organisers again offer an equal prize listing of $7,500 for each race.
June 17: Harlem Skyscraper Classic, New York City (USA CRITS)
Women 2:00 p.m. / Men 3:15 p.m.
The Harlem Skyscraper Classic was created in 1973 by the late David Walker, an NYPD Community Affairs Officer, who founded the event to encourage the city's kids to get more exercise and learn to lead more active lifestyles. The 1.2km circuit hugs the Marcus Garvey Park in the village of Harlem in Manhatten. The women's and women's field will compete for 75 minutes.
June 22: USA Cycling Professional Road Championships - Criterium, Knoxville, Tennesee
Women 6:15 p.m. / Men 7:45 p.m.
The USA Cycling Pro Criterium Championships will be held in conjunction with the road race and time trial events this year in Knoxville, Tennessee. The time trial will open the weekend of racing on June 21, the criterium will be held on June 22 and the road races will close out the championships event on June 23.
The races will be routed on a 1.7km course with 40m of climbing and short hill leading into the last turn. The majority of the course if fairly open with a more technical final quarter. The finish will also be used for the road race, and has moved the Gay Street, in the heart of downtown. USA Cycling will also be allowing top Domestic Elite Team riders in for the men's race, and continue to open the women's race to Cat. 2.
The women will race for 75 minutes and the men will race for 90 minutes.
June 24: 2018 Global Relay Canadian Road Championship – Criterium, Saguenay, Quebec
Women / Men
Cycling Canada announced that due to a lack of municipal funding the national championships relocated from Kamloops, British Columbia to Saguenay, Quebec, and will be held from June 21-24. The announcement came weeks after organisers of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay cancelled their event due to reasons out of their control. The organising committee agreed to instead support the championship event this year. Cycling Canada will announce the criterium course, distances and schedule soon.
More to follow…
June 30: Tour of America's Dairyland - Downer Classic, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Women / Men
The Tour of America's Dairyland hosts 11 events held from June 21-July 1. Downer Classic is the penultimate round held on Milwaukee's Eastside. The Otto Wenz Cafe Hollander Downer Classic p/b IS Corp is a 4-corner 0.9 mile criterium. For 2018, the Pro 1/2 Women will race for 60 minutes and Pro 1/2 Men will race for 90 minutes. With over four decades of history and thousands of cheering fans, racers will enjoy an electric crowd and the rewards of the world famous Ben's Cycle Super Prime. In 2017, the $10,000 Super Prime was paid out equally to the winning female and male competitors.
July 7: Gastown Grand Prix, Vancouver, British Columbia
Women 6:15 p.m. / Men 7:30 p.m. PCT
Doctor Roger Sumner's idea of hosting a bike race in Gastown, a unique area of Vancouver filled with twisty cobblestoned streets, came to fruition in 1973, and a women's category followed in 1980. Now Canada's oldest one-day classic, the men's event has hosted riders Alex Steida, Davis Phinney, Mark McCormack and Svein Tuft over the years, and the women's event has captivated spectators with the likes of Alison Sydor, Clara Hughes and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. The event is now part of the BC Superweek, nine races in ten days, held from July 6-15.
July 14: Boise Twilight Criterium, Boise, Idaho
Women 7:00 p.m. / Men 8:15 p.m. PCT
Celebrating its 31st anniversary, Boise Twilight Criterium is a fast-paced race held on the city's downtown streets, annually attracting 20,000 spectators. The rectangular circuit runs clockwise and starts and finishes on Jefferson St, turns onto 6th, Bannock, 9th streets before the final corner on to Jefferson. The women will compete for 60 minutes and the men for 90 minutes.
July 28: San Rafael Sunset Criterium, San Rafael, California (USA CRITS)
Women 7:00 p.m. / Men 8:15 p.m. PCT
In its 20th edition, organisers call this criterium 'a nightclub on wheels', outdoors and under streetlights. Races are held on a 1km course in downtown San Rafael. The start-finish line is at 4th St, and the race runs clockwise on 4th St, D St, 5th St and A St. The women will race for 70 minutes and the men for 75 minutes. Past winners are a who's who of California racing, including Coryn Rivera and Jackson Stewart.
August 4: Reading Radsport Criterium, Reading, Pennsyvlania
Women / Men
In its second year, the Reading Radsport Criterium offers a healthy prize purse of $20,000 and equal pay-outs for men and women, making it an attractive race during the peak of the season. Frequent lap prizes, incentives for the 'most consistent' rider, and a penultimate lap gambler's prime keeps the racing fast and furiuos. Last year's winners were Lauretta Hanson (UHC) and Shane Kline (Rally Cycling).
September 2: Giro della Montagna (Gateway Cup), St. Louis, Missouri
Women / Men
The Gateway Cup is part of the PRT and the USA CRITS and features three days of criterium racing in an Omnium format. Its final race on September 2 is the Giro della Montagna; an event started in 1986 by Joe Torrisi. The race joined the Gateway Cup series in 1998. It takes place on an L-shaped circuit in 'The Hill', an area of St. Louis that has a large Italian population.
September 15: Atlantic City Resurgence Fest Criterium (USA CRITS), Atlantic City, New Jersey
Women / Men
The USA CRITS final purse and the final points of the eleven-round series will be on the line for the finale at the Atlantic City Resurgence Fest Criterium. Twenty teams in the women's and men's fields will compete for the series-ending purses of $50,000. Racers line up on the Steel Pier on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.