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Road racing is the cycle sport discipline of road cycling, held on paved roads. Races take one of two forms. Mass start events, where riders start simultaneously (though sometimes with a handicap) racing to a set finish point, or individual or team time trials, where riders or teams race a set course against the clock.

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Single-day race distances may be as long as 150 miles (240 km). Courses may run from place to place or comprise one or more laps of a circuit. Some courses combine both. Races over short circuits, often in town or city centres, are known as ‘Criteriums’. 

A Criterium, or Crit, is a race consisting of several laps around a closed circuit, the length of each lap or circuit ranging from about 1 km to 2 km.

Race length is determined by number of laps or total time. Generally the event's duration (commonly one hour) is shorter than that of a traditional road race, which can last many hours, sometimes over the course of several days or even weeks, as in a Grand Tour. However, the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been lapped.

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Some races, known as handicaps, are designed to match riders of different abilities and/or ages; groups of slower riders start first, with the fastest riders starting last and so having to race harder and faster to catch other competitors.

Events often have prizes called primes, pronounced /pri?mz/ and are usually cash for winning specific intermediate laps (for instance, every 10th lap).

Success in road Criteriums requires a mix of good technical riding skills, to corner smoothly while holding the racing line, as well as rapidly and sharply. Sucess also requires an ability to ride safely within a tight group and to be able to "sprint" frequently, to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.

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Other road races are organised in stages which are ridden consecutively and last over a number of days. The competitor with the lowest cumulative time to complete all stages is declared the overall, or general classification (GC), winner. Stage races often also have other classifications and awards, such as individual stage winners and the ‘King of the Mountains’. Three-week stage races are called Grand Tours, the best known of these being the Tour de France.

Useful Links:

  • British Cycling:
  • Entries for Central League Races on British Cycling Website:
  • LVRC Website:
  • Rider HQ – Race Entries:
  • Cycling Time Trials: