About the Sport
Types of races
Bicycle road races include multi-day stage races such as the famous Tour de France to Criteriums, which are races based on a circuit - usually less than a mile in length - and run for a set period of time. Criteriums, like the Priority Health Grand Cycling Classic, are the most popular form of road racing in North America. Typically the race runs through a closed-off city center.
Professional vs. amateur - what the rankings mean:Cyclists are ranked through the U.S. Cycling Federation (USCF) based on race results calculated using the USCF Results and Rankings Program. "Category 1" refers to professional cyclists, and Categories 2 through 5 are amateur rankings. Masters cyclists are age 35 and above. For a complete explanation, see www.usacycling.org.
Watching the race:
The Priority Health Grand Cycling Classic is a criterium: Cyclists will circle a looped race for a set period of time. The cyclist who rides the longest distance during the specified time wins the race. Competition requires technical skills - especially the ability to take corners quickly and sharply, and riding safely with a large group in order to avoid crashing. In most Criteriums, cyclists reach speeds of up to 40 mph.
Cycling terminology:Like most sports, cycling has its own lingo. Here's a list of common terms to help you understand the race.
Attack. A sudden attempt to get away from another rider.
Blocking. When a rider tries to get in other riders' way. This is a part of a team strategy to slow down other cyclists to allow other team members to get ahead in a breakaway.
Bridge the Gap. When a rider - or group of riders - tries to reach a group farther ahead.
Breakaway. When a group of riders get ahead of the pack (or peloton)
Cadence. Pedaling rate.
Chasers. Riders who are attempting to "bridge the gap" in attempting to catch the lead group.
Circuit. A track that is ridden more than one time during a race.
Criterium. A bike race in which cyclists ride on a circuit for a specified length of time or distance.
Drafting. Riding closely behind another rider in order to get into their slipstream. The lead rider expends up to 30 percent more energy than the following rider.
Drop. Getting left behind or losing contact with the group of riders.
Field. The main group of riders - also called the pack or peloton.
Force the Pace. When a rider goes harder than the rest of the pack to increase the pace.
Gap. The distance between groups or individuals.
Hammering. Steady, strenuous pedaling.
Hook. When riders use their wheels to hit rider(s) behind them - may be intentional or accidental.
Jump. A sudden acceleration, most often at the start of a sprint.
Kick. The final burst of speed in a race.
Mass Start. When all racers begin at the same time.
Pack. The main group of riders - also called the. field or peloton.
Peloton. The main group of racers - also called the field or the pack.
Prime (pronounced "preem"). This "race within a race" gives cyclists the chance to win a prize for being the first to complete a specific lap.
Slipstream. The air pocket created by a moving rider. Other riders "draft" in the slipstream to conserve energy.
Sprint. A burst of speed to finish the race - usually involving more than one rider.
Take a flyer. When a rider heads out in front of the pack, usually alone.