In 2016, Aldo Ino Ilesic entered the fixed gear scene. Calling his debut season, with a 3rd place in all Red Hook Crits resulting in an overall 2nd place, impressive would be an understatement. Even more so if one takes into account how he controlled the field in the first three RHC crits in order to enable his team mate Colin Strickland to maintain a gap with the bunch. However, last week Colin Strickland announced his new team, Intelligentsia Racing, which means that the most successful couple that the RHC ever had will not be racing together in the 2017 season. Since then, all eyes were on Aldo. We interviewed him about his first season on the fixed gear bike, his 2017 aims, and of course how he feels about Colin leaving the team. Aldo is currently in Gran Canaria for training, in one of his training sessions he goed to the local go-kart circuits to work on his cornering.
Text: Brian Megens
Aldo comes from a road background wherein he made it up to the UCI Pro-Continental level for 4 years, riding for Team Type 1 and United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team. His impressive physique immediately signals the powerhouse Aldo is, a power sprinter. In 2015 and 2016 he made the switch from classic and stage racing to the American crit circuit, something which suited his fast legs. He got attracted to racing fixed gear crits when he heard about the Red Hook Crits in 2015. Aldo decided to visit RHC Milano no.6, and he was so impressed with the atmosphere and everything around it that he decided to take part in the 2016 series. Specialized was setting up a new team and obviously could use some power. They approached him, and the power couple for 2016 was born.
As a former pro-road racer and current world-class fixed gear racer Aldo experienced both worlds. “The atmosphere you find in fixed gear crits you don’t find that in road races. I mean in road races you pass by once or come back only 5 hours later. With fixed gear crits, the laps are short and you see everyone pass by multiple times. Even if you don’t understand it, you can enjoy the spectacle, especially if you take into account that we all ride without brakes.”
However, being a good road racer does not mean one can handle and truly race a fixed gear bike on a crit circuit properly. For Aldo, it took a couple of weeks of training on the bike to get used to it and two laps during the qualification of RHC Brooklyn no.9. From then on “it is full gas”. On the 2016 season Aldo is clear “it was a perfect season with unexpected good results. The good thing about the way Colin and I raced was that we always tried, and managed except for RHC Milano, to get both of us on the podium. It was just very unfortunate that there was no bunch sprint, and in Milan we made our only tactical mistake although for the GC we had to and I still think the others teams did not do a good job by all looking at us.”
To Aldo, the move of Colin came as an unexpected big surprise. “Our communication was always good and I think we helped each other a lot last season. His team is built for breakaways while I will tune the 2017 team more for sprints. I cannot say much about the 2017 team yet but the team name is likely to stay Allez-Allez Specialized and we are getting more than 2 guys extra on board and I might bring some new techniques to the scene. (…) If I see Colin as the biggest competitor? As riders we differ as day and night, and I never focus on competition in the form of a person, I know which teams to look for but the only competition comes from those within three positions around me.”
Stay tuned for more information on the Allez-Allez Specialized 2017 team! Soon to be published.
The Strava file of Aldo’s go-kart training session