8bar at Red Hook Criterium Barcelona 2016
text: Hagen Lindner
photos: Stefan Haehnel / recentlie.com
For many the Red Hook Criterium in Barcelona is a highlight itself. Not just within the the Red Hook Criterium Series, but also for their entire race season. It was the fourth year David Trimble brought it out to the “Parc del Fòrum” close to the beach side. We went with six 8bar team riders and five 8bar Rookies and looked forward to race the new designed course, that seemed to be even faster then in 2015.
Summer heat cooked up fast qualification times
More than 370 men and over 40 women entered the qualification this year for Red Hook Barcelona No.4. As always it was a mixture of young fixie kids, old track bike enthusiasts, pro road-races, amateur mountain bikers and everyone in between. It’s great to see all those new faces at the race, which often sprang a surprise in the former races this year, especially in the women field. Qualification heats started at noon when the sun warmed up the course to degrees around 40°C. Before most of the 8bar riders even went for their so-called “hot lap” – where you get a 25 session in your qualification group of about 50 riders to set a fastest time for the 1.1km long course, similar to Formula1 races – there where already set some fast times with an average speed of more then 50km/h.
Most of the 8bar team rider and 8bar Rookies started in qualification group 3, 2 and 1 as a pair of two riders maximum in a group. Some of us played it more safe due to injuries earlier the season and decided to ride with a team mate they know well while others tried to catch a fast group of riders and draft them as much as possible to get a fast time. A strategy that is not as easy to implement as it sounds, but has been proofed as the best chance to be successful.
8bar Rookie Brian Megens, who showed a super strong performance in the season, qualified himself directly for the main race on position 48th. Only 8bar team rider Stefan Schott, by far the one with the most experience in fixed gear racing in the team, was faster and put down the 41th fastest time this afternoon. Tim Ceresa, back on the bike only a few weeks after a knee injuriy from a skiing accident earlier this year, and Maxe Faschina qualified close to each other within the Top85 that went straight to the main race of every Red Hook Crit.
Paul Stubert and Konrad Opitz had to take the “Last Chance Race” where qualifiers on position 86 to 150 go for a shortened race over 18 laps to ascertain another ten riders that join the main race later that night. Unfortunately Konrad missed it super close by coming in on 11th position. Paul decided to to not overdue it as he is still recovering from a broken collarbone he got at Red Hook Brooklyn in April.
The Girls were strong as always
The girls qualification traditionally takes place after the guys, so there was some time to relax before the race for Sami Moreno, newest in the team and based in Barcelona, and Carla Nafría, who lives in Spain as well, started. Qualifying on a good position is for the women race just as crucial as for the mens field. As the criterium races always start off with a high pace it happens easily to loose to much power in the first laps to close gaps or being at the end of the field. Sami qualified on 16th position what was quite good after she just got into an accident the week before after she could barely walk. Carla showed her strength and that she was hungry for a podium position by taking the 3rd fastest time.
The action happens at night
The women race started just before dusk and along the track more and more spectators gathered to experience the thrill of the fastest fixed gear women of the world. Different to prior Red Hook there was no dominance by one rider, named Ainara Elbusto who started from position no.1 – as usual. Many attacks from different teams and different riders made it an interesting and fun, but also fast race. Carla was sitting in front the entire race and was one of them that set the pace high and attacked. She eventually had to count the cost for her early race efforts and unfortunately had not enough power to be part of the final sprint but finished still on a good 16th position. Sami fought well in the race in the chase group behind the peloton, but got pulled of at half of the race, still making it in the top30.
A great comeback
With Maxe, Stefan and Tim we had three riders in the main race for the 8bar team as well as Brian and Eric Brugnon for the 8bar Rookies. All of them had to start more or less from the middle or third part of the field, so their mission was clear: gain positions as fast as possible. Tough job though in a field that strong that even former Red Hook winner like William Guzman didn’t made it to even half of the race, because everyone wants to move up fast.
Tim actually had a great comeback with showing a strong race and made his way up to the first group and gained over 50 places up to his start position. He was the only one in the mens filed that took points in the end and finished 22nd. Maxe and Stefan fought hard in the back of the field with Maxe were even able to gain some places. Both got pulled off the race when it was half way done with results in the Top75.
In the end it was again Collin Strickland, who has one every Race of the 2016 Red Hook Series, who showed an impressive riding. Even though there where many attacks during the entire race, non of them could lead to a significant gap, but made the pace rise and so riders got dropped at the end of the field. Tristan Uhl though set a sweeping effort in the last laps and was the one that could chase down Strickland, but couldn’t beat him at the finish line. It’s safe to say, that the level of riding improves from year to year and race to race. So we’re curious how the last Red Hook for the year in Milano at 1st of October will be and what it will bring for the 8bar team and 8bar Rookies.