8bar team at Red Hook Criterium Barcelona 2015
written by Maxe Faschina
Photos: Stefan Haehnel / recentlie.com
It’s always best to reflect on a race while the body is still recovering from it, and boy, do I still feel sore!
Racing the Red Hook Crit (RHC) is very different in this regard as recovery seems to take longer than usual. The constant contraction from breaking and acceleration takes it’s toll on your legs as well a on the upper body.
There’s no time to rest in the middle of a moving field at the RHC unless you’re taking the risk of forcing your line of choice on everybody else. That already is the conclusion of the weekend. But let’s go back to qualifying first…
The qualifying is divided into six different groups with around 40 riders each. The qualifying group depends on your former results at Red Hook Crits. Each qualifying group got 25 minutes on the course. The first ten minutes are neutralized. Afterwards you got 15 minutes to get a fast lap. The fastest 85 riders make it directly into the finals and another 65 riders have the chance to get one out of ten spots in the “Last Chance Race”.
Because Tim, Paul and myself finished in the Top 40 at the RHC London we were being put in the qualifying group 1 for Barcelona. That is were you want to be. In theory there’s gonna be a couple of guys battling it out for the fastest qualifier but as long as you just hold on to them, you should be safe to score a time among the best 85 for the final.
We decided to first try to go with the main bunch and then see, if we should do a team effort in case that wasn’t fast enough. It kinda worked as we all qualified in the first hot lap, but I was held up and felt that I could’ve done better. So I asked Tim to lead out the first two turns for me as I didn’t want to start from the back of the field as it has always been the case for me. Fortunately I scored a perfect time that found me on the 24th position in the starting grid. Tim did even better and started from the front row in 5th position while Paul scored a solid 48th. Stefan who hadn’t raced a Red Hook this year had to try his luck in an earlier group and suffered from many riders blocking the course. He finished 0.5 seconds short of a spot in the finals, but was able to take part in the Last Chance Race which saw some fierce racing already. He and 8bar Rookie Eike controlled the front of the race and finished impressively in 2nd and 4th position. So effectively we got 5 riders in the starting grid for the main race. Tim 5th, Maxe 24th, Paul 48th, Stefan 87th and Eike 89th for the 8bar rookies.
With the competitive level being so very high this year, it’ was clear that only the best were taking part in the final event. Among them a growing number of professional and former pro athletes. This past weekend had some heavy hitters brought in from the American professional crit scene. So everybody was eager to compete against these guys.
The nature of the course in Barcelona called for some fast racing with a tight hairpin as a decisive feature.
There hadn’t been many crashes there in qualifying, but in the race this was the most dangerous part. Three and sometimes four riders shoulder to shoulder in a tight turn like that caused many pile ups. Riders either clipping pedals or pushing each other in the barricades had me taking the hairpin very cautiously and on the outside. Stefan fell victim to the tussle when he flipped over a rider crashing in front of him. I managed to avoid going down there multiple times with crashes happening in front and around me. Nevertheless I lost many positions there every time I was held up. I tried to make up for it on the long back straight bombing to the front. That tactic seemed to work pretty well for me so I stuck to it for most of the race.
Meanwhile there was a two man breakaway at the front slowly but surely gaining time on the pack. A dull of pace due to disagreement over who should drive the chase and fatigue setting in gave us the chance to position us in the top 20 ranks for the last lap. With a lead of 20 seconds it was quite clear that the breakaway would not be caught.
Suddenly the race came to a hold as it was neutralized during the last lap.
A heated debate sparked among some teams and the organizers when the decision was made to have it restarted with two laps to go. The problem was that now everything was back together and it was a matter of having reinforced your position during the neutralized lap to be in contention for a top finish. The breakaway was given a 17 second lead and then hell broke loose. Since everybody had the chance to catch their breath during the short break, too many people thought they’re still in contention for a top finish. To hold position had become very dangerous as it got even more aggressive, but Tim was able to maintain his top 10 position during that last lap and took the sprint for third of the main bunch which secured him the 5th place at the podium.
Paul scored the best German result ever at a Red Hook Criterium and ended up on a good 16th. I once again was held up in the last hairpin because of a crash in front of me and got 28th. Eike finished in an amazing 54th racing his first Red Hook ever. Overall we are more than satisfied to have an 8bar team rider on the podium. We now know that we are able to be in front of this race.
As for me, I am not totally satisfied with the result, but I realized that the choice of line is of much more important than sheer strength or stamina on a course like that. So I will keep that in mind for the next races coming up!
Event Info: redhookcrit.com