The Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium comes early this year. Moving from its traditional spot in August to its new mid-April slot, the race in Charlotte is now part of the National Criterium Calendar as well as the USA Crit Series.
Presby marks the kick-off to my season. While my teammates have been winning Redlands, racing European World Cups and otherwise kicking butt, I have made the most of my first real break between the ‘cross and road season. I am now, officially, ready to get my road season underway with what many consider the most prestigious criterium on the calendar.
Charlotte has always been a fast, hard crit. I don’t expect the schedule change from August to April to change that. There’s a lot of money on the line, and everyone is gunning for bragging rights and big bucks. I expect the usual amount of anticipation, energy and anxiety when I toe the line on Saturday night for 18 lightening-fast laps
The course is the same as it’s always been – and it’s harder than what the map suggests. The 1.2 mile barbell course includes two really long straightaways that give riders a lot of opportunities to launch an attack. The roads are slightly uphill on both sections of straight road. On either end, we jump from the corner onto a false flat. This means it’s a slight uphill run to the finish. The slight uphill is followed by an ever-so-slight descent that allows us to have a lot of speed heading into the corners.
It’s a fairly straightforward eight-corner course. Straightforward and fast.
While much will remain the same, the calendar change could introduce a few differences from the past few years. It’s still early season, so I expect that people will be a bit more fresh. Also, we’re probably not going to have to deal with the heat and humidity we contend with in the late summer. The forecast suggests much more pleasant conditions. It looks like it will be around 70°F – perfect racing weather.
Typically, because of the humidity, a lot of people get dropped or aren’t able to ride as strong as they might in more favorable weather conditions. Without the severe heat to reduce the field, we could see a bigger, stronger field together at the finish.
I imagine the crowds at Charlotte will be as impressive as ever. The race organization estimates nearly 40,000 people come out to watch us race. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see even more people come out without the heat and humidity keeping people indoors. I always count on big crowds in Charlotte to add energy to the race.
Racing in North Carolina is a real treat. It’s exciting to race somewhere that consistently supports cycling. The Presbyterian Criterium is now in its ninth year. The Giordana Velodrome opened in Rock Hill last month. Cyclocross Nationals will be held in Asheville in 2014. It’s a great place to kick off my season.
Date: April 14, 2012
Time: 6PM (EDT)
How to follow
live updates – @USACrits
official hashtag – #presby
live streaming may be provided by USA Crit Series – check http://usacrits.com/site/ for more info
Team TIBCO for Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium: