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Neuser Criterium in Nuremberg – a successful start to the 2022 season

Fia • 23. April 2022 • 2 Min.

After almost 6 months of competition-free time, I competed in my first race of the new season a few weeks ago. Since it is still a little too cold for triathlon competitions in Germany, I have initially dedicated myself to only one discipline: cycling. Only a few hundred meters from my front door in Nuremberg, a criterium took place.

At the Auto Neuser Criterium in Nuremberg there were about 12 girls at the start. Unfortunately, only a few women take part in such races, so we rode together with the U17 boys.

Before the first race you’re always particularly excited, of course, and the fact that we had to start together with the guys didn’t diminish my nervousness. Before the start, I warmed up for about 20 minutes and did a few sprints. At the end I drove the lap with its four 90 degree turns a few times and tried to memorize the ideal line as well as possible. It is also advisable to keep an eye out for potholes, streetcar tracks and manhole covers so that you are not surprised during the race.

For those who don’t know what a criterium is and how it works, here is a short explanation:

A criterium is a cycling race that is held on a circuit and in which points are awarded through regular scoring sprints. A lap is usually between one and two kilometers long. So the winner is not necessarily the one who crosses the finish line first, but the one who has scored the most points. However, the finish sprint is scored twice and therefore has a higher weighting.

Shortly before the starting signal, all riders gather at the starting line. I’ve learned from past races that it’s important to position yourself as far forward as possible, because most of the time things get really busy in the first hundred meters. So I put myself in the front row, even if it costs me some effort. We girls usually prefer to get in line at the back, but restraint is out of place in bike races.

The starting signal is given and, as expected, the race really gets underway. I click into my pedals as fast as possible and start the first sprint. Then I brake briefly, turn 90 degrees, get out of the saddle, sprint. After five laps comes the first scoring lap, which means at the end of the fifth lap they sprint for points and it gets really hard not to burst out of the group. Unfortunately, the women are scored together with the guys as far as points are concerned. So my goal is to just stay in the lead group as long as possible and then give it my all in the final sprint. The first scoring lap is done and I’m still in the leading group – great! The field has split up in the meantime and I look around to see how many girls are riding next to me in the leading group. There are still five girls. The rest of the riders are now in the chasing group and try to catch up again – in vain.

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Time flies and the scoreboard, which shows the laps still to be completed, keeps counting down. I feel good and enjoy the speed. Shortly before the curves it comes again and again to small scuffles and I hook my handlebars with that of another driver, fortunately nothing happens and I’m wide awake again thanks to the adrenaline rush.

It is so far, the bell rings the last of 30 rounds, it goes again really hot. A few guys try to break away in front, but we can put them back. Now it’s full concentration. The last left turn – I’m on the right edge of the field and can enter the turn with a lot of speed, I get out of the saddle and sprint across the finish line as fast as I can. Second place – madness. I only had to admit defeat to Svenja Betz, a professional cyclist who rides for a Belgian Continental team. Two female riders from the Bundesliga followed in third and fourth place. I’m proud of myself and completely euphoric.

At the end there were 25 km with a 41.5 km/h average on the bike computer. A maximum heart rate of 190 and a maximum power of 700 watts.

Riding a bike hurts. But it’s also incredibly fun and something different than a triathlon competition. Hopefully we can get more girls on the start line of such events in the future.

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