If you read my last blog, you’ll have been left hanging, tantalisingly so, wondering how my team got on in the 24 hour criterium in Italy. Or at least you would have known I was riding it.
I was competing for the Castelli Media team and in the end we finished a not-to-shabby 24th out of 93. And that’s after losing our two German riders at four in the morning.
Not that that was a problem. It meant I got to do more riding.
The first I heard about this event was when an old racing friend of mine, Justin Hoy, told me about it last year. Justin works for Castelli’s British distributor Saddleback, and had ridden for one of the Castelli teams.
Having heard the tales of racing against Miguel Indurain from last year, we promptly put ourselves forward for this year’s race. We obviously weren’t the only ones as we were bundled in to the Castelli media team for 24 hours of solid fun.
Not to give too much away (feature coming up soon in Cycle Sport), we had an absolute blast.
This was how 24hr bike races should be run. I’ve done a few off-road 24hr mtb races (I’ve even been on the podium), but none were as fun, civilised, enjoyable, sociable, fast and exhilarating as this.
It seems contradictory to get all those adjectives in to one sentence, but the Castelli 24hr crit ticks all the boxes. The location was great, the circuit perfect for the event and the racing was downright brilliant. In short this was probably the best cycling event I’ve ever ridden.
The format was simple: Twelve riders per team, with one rider racing at any one time. The schedule was down to the team to set. Most teams stuck to a similar format; splitting the team in to groups of three who rotated in a three – four hour shifts, typically riding for between 20-30 minutes throughout.
Once the shift was done, it was back to the hotel for a shower, food and some sleep. If we wanted to hang around we just relaxed in the Castelli marquee where free food and drink were available almost throughout the event. See? Very sociable.
The amazing thing was that it was full-on racing every time you got out on to the circuit. With 93 teams in the event (although realistically only around 40-50 were up to consistently racing at the front) there were always some fresh legs on the circuit ready to give it some beans.
With no let up on the 1.8km circuit riders really were subjected to 24 hours of criterium style racing – something that normally goes on for no longer than an hour. In fact, it got faster towards the end as the top teams brought in their ringers (each team was allowed to bring in three pro riders to guest for them. Funnily enough, it was only the good teams who new the pro riders and had the clout to ask) who promptly started to attack each other to try and gain or pull back a lap.
The whole experience left a few of us discussing whether or not this sort of event could be run in the UK. The answer was yes, but only if a willing town could be found to close a suitable circuit for a day-and-a-half.
If you know of any such town, let us know. We know a clothing manufacturer who might be interested in putting on a great event.
RESULT: Castelli 24hr crit
1 STAR TWO 522 laps
2 GRONDAFLOREX 2 522 laps
3 VALBELLUNA – DIMENSIONE LUCE 516 laps
4 TEAM MICTU SANVIDO 513 laps
5 WHITE BIRD 511 laps
6 FANS CLUB MATTEO TOSATTO-IL BARETTO 1 509 laps
7 QUINTETTO+7 509 laps
8 CYCLING TEAM BELLUNESE 511 laps
9 CARTAI TOP TEAM 508 laps
10 STIFELIO FOOD AND DRINK 507 laps
24 CASTELLI MEDIA TEAM 486 laps