Justin Williams announces CRIT, a new criterium racing series

The L39ION of Los Angeles founder secures a ‘multi-million dollar investment’ and wades into an increasingly crowded crit racing landscape. 

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Cycling is about to get yet another criterium racing series. 

L39ION of Los Angeles team founder Justin Williams announced Thursday a partnership with Wasserman Ventures on a “multi-million dollar investment” to create the Circuit Racing International Tour, which will also be known as CRIT. 

For now, details are limited. There’s no word yet on race schedules, race format, venues, or which athletes will race in the series, though it’s safe to say the L39ION team will be there.

Williams and Wasserman Ventures said in a press release that these details will follow in the coming months. 

The only somewhat concrete detail in the statement is that “CRIT races will be held in major markets at iconic mainstream sport venues.”

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It’s also unclear whether the races will be limited to the United States or will be international.

The “International” in the name suggests the latter, but a statement from Williams and Wasserman Ventures also said that the “investment aims to shape the future of American cycling,” which could mean a primarily domestic series. 

CRIT will join two other circuit and criterium racing series already in existence in the United States. The 10-race American Criterium Cup is in the second year of its current format after being created to replaced the USA CRITS series that dissolved in 2021. 

The ACC has a $100,000 prize purse and consists of independently promoted races that have all come together for the series. Williams and L39ION race in this series. 

The other big player in criterium racing is the upstart National Cycling League which just held its first race of a four-race format last month in Miami Beach. 

The NCL differs from other criterium races and race series because it promotes its own races, has its own teams, and has a points based format where teams accumulate points by placing riders in the top three spots each lap.

It also has a potential prize purse of over $1 million, though the actual guaranteed purse is only $250,000, with the rest coming as a bonus to any team that can win all four races. 

Williams and L39ION are conspicuous absentees from the NCL this season, and Williams creating a competitor in CRIT is likely the reason why. 

“CRIT is the culmination of a lifetime of dedication and passion to the sport of cycling, and is our shared vision for what the future of cycling can look like,” Williams said in a press release.

“It’s always been about the journey and the people we’ve met along the way. For years we’ve been striving to create an inclusive and competitive environment that brings out the best in people. We are building what we couldn’t find: a stage that welcomes riders from all walks of life, encourages competition at the highest level, and above all inspires the next generation of riders to ensure the legacy of our sport.”

Williams has previous experience in race promotion, having organized the Into the Lion’s Den criterium in Sacramento, California in October 2021 that had a $100,000 prize purse. 

In July 2022, Williams announced that the second edition would be postponed until 2023, saying at the time that “I only have so much energy, and I’ve decided to focus on my goal of building community; I’m prioritizing L39ION’s event resources to produce an additional junior day camp, community rides, and outreach programming.”

Into the Lion's Den bicycle race in front of California state capitol building
Riders lap around the California State Capitol at the Into the Lion’s Den criterium in 2021. (Photo: Kit Karzen)

No additional announcement has come about the status of the event, which would be about six months away now if it took place at the same time of year as the first edition.

Having Wasserman Ventures on board to assist could make promoting the race again this year more likely.

Williams has a long relationship with the group, having been represented by Wasserman executive vice president, action sports and Olympics Travis Clarke for the last five years. 

CRIT has been a long time in the making, but we wanted to ensure we did it correctly and aligned with some of the most powerful operators in the sporting community to give it the greatest opportunity for success,” Clarke said in a press release.

Wasserman has had a very successful relationship with Justin over the years, and we’re excited to explore the next step by bringing Justin’s vision for the future of cycling to light through the launch of CRIT.”

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