A criterium, or crit, is a bike race consisting of laps around a closed circuit, the length of each lap or circuit ranging from about 6/10ths to just over 1 mile.
Race length is determined by total time, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses.
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".
Events often have prizes (called primes pronounced "preems" and are usually cash) for winning specific intermediate laps (for instance, every 10th lap). A bell is usually rung to announce to the riders that whoever wins the next lap, wins the prime.
Success in road criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly while holding the line on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply — and riding safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional "sprint" ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.
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