VIA Kings Cross Crit: An Unmissable Event in the Beating Heart of London

VIA Kings Cross Crit has quickly become a British Crit racing calendar highlight. Town centre criterium racing has been making its ‘popularity comeback’ in the UK over the last few years; the short circuit, fast-paced racing drawing in more racers year after year. To define a crit race very simply: “a bike race consisting of several laps around a closed circuit, the length of each lap or circuit ranging from about 400 m to 10,000 m”- but let’s dive into the details of what makes a small bike race, a proper criterium…

A Weekend Packed with Races - What to Expect at VIA

Based in the heart of London, this year’s VIA Crit is twice as special as it hosted the Brompton World Championships after a 5-year break. This unique inclusion has drawn even more attention and participation, making it a true celebration of cycling and its community.

The VIA Crit course running through the centre of Coal Drops yard is renowned for its technicalities, mixed with the high speeds on slippy pave, it’s designed to challenge even the most seasoned riders. The 850-metre lap ends with the main feature - a wooden constructed ramp where the riders descend into Cold Drops yard, the “natural amphitheatre”, where the start/finish is located.

Races at VIA

The whole weekend was a cycling extravaganza, featuring multiple races that catered to different types and abilities of cyclists. This inclusivity is a hallmark of the event, ensuring that everyone, from beginners to elite riders, has a chance to compete and shine.

Cycling in general, has a long way to go with encouraging more women to get into racing, with most events struggling to fill a women's field or even get enough women to run the race as a whole. However, VIA ensured to run, not one but two specific women's races (unheard of in the cycling world!) to give opportunities to all levels of racers and encourage women to simply, try it. Small steps like this have big impacts in women's racing and although we are still very far from equality in the sport, it’s encouraging to see races like this ‘stepping up’ and setting examples.

On the whole, the weekend's schedule included everything from Fixed gear events, Brompton World Championships, Kids/Junior events and the marquee Women’s & Men’s Elite Crit races. This variety not only showcases the sport's diversity but also brings the community together in a celebration of cycling. I took part in one of these races myself, and what a race it was – more on that later.

What is Crit Racing?

A proper criterium stands out with its electric atmosphere and VIA Crit did not disappoint. The excitement started long before the first race, with spectators lining the streets, brands setting up their stalls and the unmistakable buzz of anticipation in the air. Being in central London, naturally, people gathered to form large crowds pretty fast, bringing together all cyclists from across the city. A pint in one hand and a cowbell in the other, creating a wall of sound that pushes the racers to push the limits. With a lap taking just over one minute to complete, it was a thrilling spectacle, with supporters getting to see pretty much the whole race, riders jostling for position and making risky overtakes.

My Race Experience

So what’s it actually like to race it? I entered the Women’s Elite category and after the disappointment of last year's event being rained off, I was so stoked to finally get to race this course. The technical nature suited me well and with so many friends cheering in the crowds, it was hard not to enjoy it!!

Our race started relatively slow with few riders willing to take the front of the bunch, I led it out for the first couple of laps allowing myself time to get to grips with the course. The technicalities of the course made it difficult to create gaps in the field and after 30 minutes, realising the field wasn’t going to split, two others and I decided to control the race, as if we were a team. We took turns sitting at the front, blocking any attacks and maintaining a tough but steady pace.

As the race progressed, it became clear that the outcome would be decided in a sprint finish. As we approached the last two laps, I moved to the front, planning my attack. Going into the final lap down the ramp, I decided to go for it. I was cornering faster than the others, so a small gap opened initially. My goal was to reach the top corner first, so I went full gas! Initially, I created a gap, but it was closed along the back straight and just before the corner, the eventual winner passed me on the inside. “Damn” - I thought.

In the last few corners, I wasn't thinking clearly and made some mistakes which I won't ever make again! Being in the wrong gear coming out of the final corner for the sprint and realising too late, losing the chance to win. Just rolling across the line millimetres behind 1st, I was incredibly pleased to take 2nd but will always wonder - “What if… Would I have won?”.

I’ll be back next year…

Why Are Events Like VIA Crit Important for the Racing Community?

Events like VIA Crit are vital for reviving the British road and Crit racing scene, which has been struggling across the board in recent years. The decline of local races, coupled with reduced sponsorship and funding, has made it challenging for many riders to find opportunities to compete. By creating a special event that draws in new athletes, sponsors, and spectators, it breathes new life into the sport.

The sense of community at these events is unmatched; it's crucial for the sport's growth and sustainability. VIA Crit, with its perfect blend of competition and camaraderie, is set to inspire younger generations of cyclists and ensure the sport's future. The involvement of major brands not only provides financial support but also brings credibility and visibility to the event, helping to attract media attention and increasing public interest.

What Does the Future Hold for VIA Crit and British Crit Racing?

The success of VIA Crit this year is a testament to the power of community in racing. It demonstrates how a well-organised event, supported by keen individuals and reputable brands, can make a significant impact on the local and national racing scene.

This rejuvenation is not only great for the cyclists but also for the broader community, as it brings people together, promotes healthy living, and showcases the positive aspects of competitive sport. The future of

British road and crit racing looks brighter thanks to the collective efforts of everyone involved in events like VIA Crit.

See you there next year?


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