Criterium races are typically a short, intense race comprising of multiple laps of a short circuit. Whether on a purpose made closed circuit or around a tight twisty town centre, these races are fast and furious racing with a lot of repeated sprints.

With crit races usually lasting only an hour often nutrition is seen as less important compared to say a longer road race. But due to the very high intensity of these type of races, our bodies actually depend more on carbohydrates and use our glycogen stores up much quicker. During the race fuelling is difficult so the nutritional emphasis switches more to getting things right before and after the race; and less about during.

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Before the Race

It’s the usual suspects that need to be ticked off before a criterium race:

• Hydration
• Fuelling

Remember as little as 2% loss of body weight due to dehydration can negatively impact your performance. So being on the startline slightly dehydrated means you are already starting on the back foot. Starting fully hydrated is an easy thing you can do to help towards optimal performance. However rehydration is not something that can be achieved in a few hours; instead it needs to be considered in the days before. Sipping little and often on fluid that contains electrolytes, such as the OTE Hydro Tab, is our best advice.

It’s a good idea to get to the start line of a crit race with full glycogen stores. If we have optimised our stores we should have enough energy stored for around 90 minutes of moderate to intense exercise. For a very high intensity crit these stores could be used up in 60 minutes so it’s essential you’re not underfuelled when starting. Aim for high carbohydrate meals in the 24-48hours before. This doesn’t necessarily mean eating more in quantity, but making sure the ratio of carbohydrates on your plate is around 50%. Remember, our bodies can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates so there is no point eating endless plates of pasta. Try have that final high carbohydrate meal around 3 hours before the start as this will allow it time to settle in your stomach.

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When do I take an energy gel?

Energy Gels are often seen being used around crit racing, and by many this seems to be when stood on the startline. We would actually suggest consuming your energy a little earlier, around 30 minutes before the start and during your warm up. Taking it whilst exercising means the blood sugar spike is lessened and you don’t get a huge sugar come down in the early stages of the race. Also if the gel is caffeinated, this allows time for this to get into your system for the moment the flag drops.

During the rest of the race there shouldn’t really be a need to take on board any fuel unless the cirterium exceeds 60 minutes. However staying on top of hydration is important. We would suggest having a full or half bottle of OTE Energy Drink on your bike that you can sip on during lulls in the race.

Our recommend gel for criterium racing has to be the Blackcurrant 100mg Caffeine Gel. This thing is like rocket fuel!

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Post Race

After the race it’s important to think about recovery straight away. The high intensity, and repetitive sprint nature of a criterium means it can put a lot of stress on the body in a relatively short period of time.

Try and consume an OTE Recovery Drink with in 30 minutes of finishing the race. This will supply you with protein for muscle damage, carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stores you very likely depleted and it’s obviously fluid to help with rehydration. This should kick start the recovery process and get you ready to train again the next day. Recovery Drinks are good, but they are not miracle workers, so to really optimise recovery try to rejoin your normal meal and snacking pattern after the race. Try consume small meals or snacks containing 20g of protein to help continue the recovery process. O and continue to sip on bottle containing a Hydro Tab too. Rehydration is a big part of recovery and is not something that can be achieved quickly.

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