Sent this as an email to the Comp Racing Team before their Witch City crit.
Good discussion. In a 4/5 crit, strategy really is pretty easy, if you want to go for the overall win and don’t have a designated sprinter. Get to the front for each prime, but don’t sprint; as soon as you cross the line, have a couple of guys attach all out. If they get caught relatively soon, send another two guys; if the second pair gets caught, sit up, cover any other major break, and wait for the next prime.
Mark guys like me who sit at the back of the pack and move forward only for the primes—these will be your sprinters and if the group is together at the end, get someone on their wheels. There’s not a whole lot of blocking, per se; rather, stay near the front, but don’t do any work.
The biggest question to ask before the race is if you’re going to designate a sprinter; if you don’t have someone who’s confident that he can win a field sprint, then use the strategy above. If you do have someone, then don’t attach, cover breaks, and make sure that you get your sprinter to the front in the final three to five laps.
NB: it’s not the average speed that’s important and which makes crits hard; it’s the variation of speeds. A 4/5 crit often will have a higher average speed at times than the ones and twos; the difference that the ones and twos have much greater extremes. If you don’t have a sprinter and you want to form a break, attack really, really hard out of corners—a good number of the 4/5 riders won’t be able to handle the variations.