Primes (pronounced preems, after the French word for “gift”) are intermediate sprints within a race, usually offering a prize and/or points. Primes are a way to encourage more competitive riding, and also an opportunity for companies to gain publicity by sponsoring a prime.

In a criterium, a bell is sounded on the lap preceding the prime sprint at the appropriate line for that prime sprint. The line used for prime sprints need not be the same as the start or finish line. Primes may be either predetermined for certain laps or spontaneously designated under the supervision of the Chief Referee.

All primes won shall be awarded to riders even if they withdraw from the race. Lapped riders are not eligible for primes except in the following situation: when a breakaway has lapped the main field, riders in the main field and the breakaway riders are then both eligible for primes. When primes are announced for a given group, only riders in that group or behind it at the beginning of the prime lap are eligible.

One of the most exciting aspects of criterium racing is the immense potential for crowd and community involvement over the course of the race. At all the BC Superweek events, you will notice volunteers out collecting cash donations from the crowd. These donations will go towards yet another prime lap – but not just any ordinary prime lap. Here’s where things get interesting…

The ‘Crowd Prime’ typically happens near that end of the race, and with all of donations pooled together (and split evenly between the men’s and women’s races), the announcers will ring the bell one final time, letting the riders know that the ‘Crowd Prime’ is on the line. The cash prize on this prime lap, often nearing one thousand dollars or more, means those riders are going to be flying as they sprint to the line. Even still, they won’t want to use up all their energy on the ‘Crowd Prime’, because the final bell lap is just around the corner, marking yet another sprint to the finish for a spot on the podium.

Prime laps in criterium racing are most commonly sponsored by local businesses and community members/organizations. During the race, when a specific prime is announced, the commentators will use this opportunity to promote the business or recognize the organization/individual who made the generous donation.

Sponsoring a prime lap is an excellent way to buy your business some air time at the PoCo Grand Prix. If you’re interested in sponsoring a prime with a cash donation, please email our team at grandprix@portcoquitlam.ca.