I am not much of a crit racer, but in the 4-5 crits Iíve done, Iíve had some success. One win, and two top-5 finishes. People are always saying to stick to the front for crits because the crashes usually happen in the middle and you want to be in front of them, plus since the field narrows to single file in the front you can pick the fastest line and avoid slowing so much through the corners and then having to sprint to catch the group all the time.
I understand the logic, but Iíve found it also narrows to single file in the back, so I can also take the fastest line: go into the turn on the outside, move to the inside through the turn and exit on the outside. Since I was able to avoid slowing as much through the turn, I come out on the outside edge of the road with more speed and pass a lot of the pack, as they sprint out of the turn, I let them pass and retake my position on the back. When I do decide to move up this is a great time to do so as you can sprint with the pack, starting from the middle, but with more speed, and move forward to find a gap to fill and end up toward the front. That was actually how I went off the front to win one.
Also, There have been crashes in the crits Iíve done, and although they did happen in font of me in the middle of the pack, they almost always happen in the middle of a corner when three riders side by side all crowd into the inside edge of the road, then topple like dominos and are thrown to the outside. This is easily seen and avoided from the back. My races usually have a smaller (20-30) person pack, and Iím sure this wouldnít work with a larger pack, but I always end up passing most of the pack in the way I explained above in one of the last few turns, then having relatively fresh legs for the sprint.
Has anyone else used this strategy in a small field crit?