It’s probably officially summer now in the Northern Hemisphere [looks out of the window, laughs] and that means CRITS! And crits mean racing we can watch, at least in the UK and the USA, so I’m here to tell you how to watch them. Welcome to the world of the Tour Series, the Milk Race and the USA Crits!
Firstly, if you’re not already a crit fan, why should you watch them? When I started getting into road cycling, with the Tour de France as the pinnacle, I was confused by crits. They’re only an hour long, they’re on the same course, surely they’re just bunch sprints following some heart-stopping crashes?
Well yes, kind of, but they’re so much more than that. There’s so much action in them, they’re all adrenaline all the time, and riders above all have to be clever and gutsy as well as fast. And they’re fantastic to watch in real life, so much to see, and with the Tour Series races I’ve been to, great road-side commentary to help newbies understand. It’s the same course for women and men, and there are usually a ton of support races, including for handcyclists, so if you turn out you can see a lot of cycling. Best of all, as I say, we can watch & follow them from all over the world, and at an hour long, that’s easier to fit into busy lives than watching the stage races.
(This is obviously UK/USA-centric, but if you know how to follow and/or watch women’s crits in other countries, please do let me know in the comments or on twitter, and I’ll write a follow-up)
The Milk Race, 24th May 2015
For about 35 years, the Tour of Britain was sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board, and called the Milk Race. Times have changed, and these days the Milk Race is a day of crit racing in historic Nottingham – and we can get to watch it live! The women’s race starts at 1pm UK BST (14:00 Euro CEST, 10pm Australian AEST and 8am North American EDT) and you can watch it live right here on youtube, and if you miss it live, after it’s happened
The Tour Series is a series of 10 City Centre Crits around the mainland UK, running from 14th May to 11th June, and at 5 of these races there’s also a women’s race, sponsored by Matrix Fitness, who are the preeminent sponsor of women’s cycling in the country.
I am biased towards these races, of course, because they’re run by SweetSpot, the company behind the amazing Aviva Women’s Tour. And this year there’s a round very near me, in Bath, so I’ll be there cheering my heart out.
You can find out where and when the women’s races are here, and you can follow them live really easily with the Tour Series twitter, with Matrix Procycling live-tweeting, and through tons of other spectators who put up periscope live video, photos and more – check out the #TourSeries hashtag. The next round is Motherwell in Scotland, on 26th June.
Then, there’ll be short highlights on the Sweetspot Youtube, as well as on the video page of their site – and even better, an hour of tv coverage on ITV4 the day after each race. You can find the tv schedule here, and if you’re in the UK you can stream it on the ITVPlayer, or if you’re viewing from elsewhere you can find ITV4 live here. If you missed the first round, Redditch, you can watch it here for the next month on the ITV Player (you may need something like Hola or Tunnelbear if you’re not in the UK) and they tend to turn up on youtube too.
Crossing the Atlantic, we hit the USA races, and these have a different culture. There are tons of cash PREEEEEEEM laps, so riders can make serious money here, as well as compete for the overall series. The commentary is as adrenaline-full and frenetic as the race, which makes them entertaining, and better yet, they’re all streamed live. Last year it was on their youtube, this time it seems like it might be on Livestream, but really, the best thing to do is to follow the USA Crits twitter and facebook, as they’ll definitely tell us, as well as provide live updates for people who can’t watch.
The next round is the Glencoe Grand Prix in Illinois, on 30th May, and they have a trailer. The women’s race will start at 4.15pm USA CDT (3:15pm EDT; 8.15pm BST; 21:15 CEST; 5:15am AEST)
You can find the schedule of all the other races here – there are 9 rounds in total, running until September. There is always a huge amount of racing, activities, parties, fun on the days, so if you’re in the USA, definitely check out if there’s one near you. And of course, lots mire information on their website.
If you know of more women’s crits we can watch or follow live, please do leave me a comment, or tell me on twitter. I love crit racing, and I’d love to watch some more, and share with other speed fans.