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The rules of a crit are the similar to most bike races, and the first person over the line wins. However, there are a few things that make it a bit different.
All racers finish on the same lap. This means that if you get lapped, you finish with those who lapped you. If a three-person group gets away and laps you, you are then sprinting for fourth place while they are going for first through third.

Free Lap Rule. A free lap is given to a racer who suffers from a “recognized mishap.” This generally means that if you flat or crash, you can check in with the officials and jump back into the race. Different governing bodies have different rules, but you generally can’t do it the last few laps of a race. It is up to the racers to know at what point they can no longer take a free lap. Checking in with officials is a must.

Lap cards. Races will have lap cards at the start/finish line. They will count down as you cross the line each time. The bell is rung with one lap to go. This is the finishing lap for all racers.

Premes. A preme is a mid race contest. The officials will ring the bell and announce what the racers are contesting. Sometimes it is announced on the start line. The items can be trivial, big money or products. There are some races famous for giving away thousands of dollars over the course of the race, before the finish.
There are a few fundamentals of criterium racing that should be adhered to at all times for your safety and the safety of those around you.

Warm up. Criteriums notoriously start fast. Sometimes a beginner event will start with a neutral lap or two. Either way, the opening and closing laps are the fastest. A good warm up is the key to being able to start fast. Ideally, if the race is local, riding to the race is a great warm up. Adding in a few jumps to spike your heart rate a few times will get your legs ready for the race.

Know the course. The course is CLOSED during the races. This means that you cannot warm up on the course while other fields are racing. However, promoters usually allow 10–15 minutes between races. This is