This crit pays out $100,000, but competition is going to be fierce

Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM has the biggest criterium prize purse in US history

L39ion of LA
L39ion of LA
(Image credit: Zwift)

The organisers of a US criterium have announced a staggering $100,000 prize purse, as some of the best racers in the country will fight for the cash on the streets of Sacramento.

Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM is a new cycling festival and race, taking place on Saturday, October 30), and offers the biggest pay-out in US criterium history.

The $100,000 (£72,000) prize is split across the men’s and women’s events, split evenly across the two. 

That cash also included a $20,000 prize for primes (intermediate sprints), as riders take on 70 minutes of a 1km circuit in downtown Sacramento. 

Into the Lion’s den kicks off with a bike street festival, with food, music, and cycling exhibitions.

That will then be followed by a community Halloween event, where families can ride or walk the criterium loop around the State Capitol in costume, with prizes awarded for the best dressed.  

It’s then time for the racing, starting with an open 50-minute amateur race, before the pro men and women then take on the tight circuit. 

Justin Willams, multiple US National Champion and founder of Into the Lion’s Den, said: “My vision has always been to make the sport of cycling great for everyone.

“Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM will have something for everyone, from fast racing to fun family activities. Ride your bikes, wear costumes and enjoy the community Halloween event. Get hooked on criterium racing during the open races, and then watch current and former National Champions go full-gas in the pro crits.”  

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Williams and his brother Cory also set up the L39ion of Los Angeles racing team, who are dominant on the US crit scene while also improving diversity in cycling. 

SRAM CEO Ken Lousberg said: “SRAM is excited to be the presenting partner of the inaugural Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM event and to reward these great racers with the largest prize purse in U.S. crit racing history. We can’t wait to watch the pro riders come down the home straightaway in front of the Capitol at close to 40 mph.”  

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.