Every Spring, road cyclists from the Kansas City metro, Lawrence, and occasionally the surrounding states participate in a 5-week training series- the Spring Fling. This race has been a popular event for veteran cyclists as an early-season training race. Beginner and intermediate-level cyclists find this event a great introduction to criterium racing. The course is safer than average due to its flat curbless roads bordered by grass. Despite the event’s 28-year history, there is still regular confusion on how the race format works for racers new to the event. This article aims to help clarify the points system and why the first rider across the line at the end of the race isn’t always the winner.
The duration of the race depends on the category. The beginner categories will race 20 minutes, while higher classes will race up to 60 minutes. The race official will estimate the number of laps that will be completed and set a lap counter at the beginning of the race.
Intermediate Point Laps
Intermediate point laps are pre-determined at the start, so it’s essential to listen to the race official for when these will happen during the race. The official will also ring a bell at the beginning of every point lap. Every category will have a different number of points laps throughout the race. Beginner categories may only have one points lap during the middle of their race, and expert classes can have up to 3.
Intermediate points are awarded as follows:
- 1st – 4
- 2nd – 3
- 3rd – 2
- 4th – 1
Final Points Lap
At the beginning of the final lap, the official will once again ring a bell. Points awarded on the final lap are higher than during the intermediate sprints.
- 1st – 8
- 2nd – 7
- 3rd – 6
- 4th – 5
- 5th – 4
- 6th – 3
- 7th – 2
- 8th – 1
Determining the Race Winner
The final placing for each rider is determined after points are tallied from the intermediate point laps and final lap. The rider with the highest point total is the winner.
John entered the Cat ¾ race. The 3/4 race is a 40 minute/15 lap race with two intermediate point laps. The race official determined the point laps would be on laps 12 and 6 (the laps will count down from 15).
On the first point lap, John couldn’t get any points. On the second point lap, John finished 4th (1 point). On the final lap, John finished 1st (8 points).
John’s point total = 9 points.
His final placing ended up being 4th despite winning the final sprint because his competition was more consistent during the earlier point laps.
On the other hand, Alan placed 3rd on each of the two intermediate point laps and the final. The combined points from each sprint lap gave Alan 10 points, putting him 3rd ahead of John.
Determining the Overall Series Winner
Each category will have an overall series ranking. The final ranking is determined by the top 4 of 5 race days for each rider. This allows each rider to miss a race or drop their lowest score. Series points are awarded after each race. See the above flyer for more details.
Consistency during every point lap is crucial to winning the Spring Fling. This points structure creates a unique challenge for racers as they must be attentive throughout the entire race, being aggressive for points and conserving energy. This demanding racing style makes the Spring Fling races such great training opportunities for both veteran and beginner racers alike.