Cyclists describe criterium race through downtown Knoxville as one with strength, speed, strategy

USA Cycling

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Cyclists will race through downtown Knoxville Friday night with the start and finish line on Gay Street.

It’s a 1.1-mile course that’s fast, short and technical. Paracyclists will start the race, which is a relay where they complete 13 laps. The Women’s Criterium race lasts 70 minutes and the Men’s Criterium race lasts 80 minutes.

Cyclists say the criterium race is one of the most exciting parts of racing, adding that it’s essentially like a game of chess.

“You race around the 1.1-mile course but you’re in a pack, so, there are a lot of different dynamics in the pack. You have to be very careful about when you play your move and when you expend that energy because there can be a lot of different things happening at once. So, you have to be attentive,” added Leigh Ann Ganzar, 2018 U.S. Pro Women’s Criterium Champion.

“I won this race last year and obviously you want to win it again, it’s a difficult race to judge. It’s a difficult race to really predict and pretty similar groups of guys racing this year. So, we’ll go in with a similar plan as last year,” said Ty Magner, 2018 U.S. Pro Men’s Criterium Champion.

Cyclists say this race requires tactic in that it’s a more reactionary racing style where athletes need to stay open and flexible.

Part of the training cyclists do before this weekend’s race includes creating a heat stress on the body so they can adapt to Knoxville’s heat and humidity.

“So there’s a lot of preparation they can put into it. One of the easiest is if you’re already living and training in an environment that’s basically the same. So, they’re living in a hot, humid environment they’re probably going to be some of the best prepared both physiologically and psychologically. If they’re not, a lot of athletes will have still done some sort of heat intervention with their training approach to get ready whether it be utilizing a sauna protocol or hot water bathing or over-dressing on some of their rides,” said Nate Wilson, road and track performance director with USA Cycling.

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