The cheering of the crowds in Red Hook Criterium London No.3 made it clear that Alec Briggs from Specialized-Rocket Espresso was their favourite. Not surprisingly as Alec is a Londoner, a world-class fixed gear rider and probably the most humble guy in the Red Hook Crit peloton. Despite several mechanical problems, but with perseverance, a strong team, and a bit of luck on his side, Alec rewarded his incredible comeback in RHC London No.3 with a spot on the podium. We spoke with Alec on his magnificent performance, how he experienced the race, and how he managed to stay in the race despite several mechanical problems.
Text: Brian Megens
Photography: Tornanti.cc/Björn Lexius
Before diving in the material problems Alec had to endure, we start the interview by asking him on how he felt the two weeks prior to RHC London No.3 “I couldn’t even a finish a crit in the two weeks before the race. I had too many late nights man. I didn’t feel good, and actually I was planning to ride for my team mates. (…) When I heard everyone was out (Stefan punctured, Eamon crashed out, and Aldo wasn’t racing) I switched a button in my head and knew that yes I got do this now.” As a Brit, Alec is used to rain but it is his background in CX which came in handy in the wet conditions of RHC London No.3 “I take pride in riding corners fast and I knew in the wet it would be exaggerated.”
Although he didn’t feel great, Alec had a good run in his heat. Nevertheless, Alec had mixed feelings after the qualification race. “Horrible heat (…) it was fine but it was hard and kinda sketchy. Everyone knew that Colin wanted to win the heat to gain points for the Championship, (…) he is smart man. Stefan already had a hard heat so I guessed he wouldn’t spend too much energy to win his heat, so I had to do well in my heat. I wasn’t allowed to sit on Colin’s wheel, Colin shouted to Marius, ‘get Colin off my wheel’, I tried to keep it lighten it up by shouting back ‘I can hear you’. Nevertheless, fair-play to Colin’s team mates Marius and Stefan, they made it hard but they did it safely. That was some good racing. The only unfortunate thing is that Alvise Zanasca crashed David Santos. I know Zanasca didn’t have the intention to make David crash and he immediately went to everyone to apologise.”
Halfway through the race Alec was the man to do it for team Specialized-Rocket Espresso as Stefan Schafer had to leave the race early due to a puncture and Eamon Lucas crashed and wasn’t present in the front anymore. However, it wasn’t like Alec’s ride was a smooth race himself as he punctured early but was lucky to find Stefan’s bike ready to continue his race and start his fight back up the field.
“There was never a second bike ready. It was pure luck that Stefan had his bike there. Stefan punctured before I did and I just jumped on his bike which was crazy looking back. I mean the gear was too tiny, the saddle too low, and the bike too long, every time in the corner my back wheel was sliding and my front wheel was sliding as well. I found the limit what I could do on the bike and then I was coming closer and closer to the bunch. Then the Red Flag situation happened, so I ran to get my own bike but I left the other bike at the finish line as I was unsure if there were any rules regarding this so in case I had to finish the race on Stefan’s bike it was there. With the restart they told us that our group was 15 seconds behind the peloton but I remembered I was less behind on the back of the peloton. I just didn’t believe it was 15 seconds, but it was me that misunderstood the situation and it was 15 seconds from the leader of the peloton to our group and not between the back of the peloton and our group, so it worked out fine. It was just the heat of the moment that I couldn’t think clearly.”
Alec showed his fighting spirit during the restart. “Everyone is punching on first corner, I sprinted full gas. The crowd really pumped me up, it is a cliché and I never though it actually happens, but it actually happened to me man. I didn’t feel good during the day (…) With 6 laps to go, I wanted to see if I could drop people on the technical section. Looking back now (Alec sighs and a moment of silence follows) I could actually have won this race if I didn’t stay in the front all time.”
“My legs started cramping in the last lap. After turn 3 in that last lap, I can’t remember anything anymore. The only thing I can remember is Filippo Fortin kicking it from the corner, and I can’t remember anything until the last corner. I blacked out, I honestly don’t know what happened (…) I remember vague that I was sitting on Giovanni’s wheel going into the last lap. It is the most nut thing that has ever happened to me. Normally, I always remember all the details, but I can’t even remember a pedal stroke from turn 3 to the finish line. I think I was sitting on Colin’s wheel for a second the 6-7th corner. It is like I got punched in the face or so. I’ve to come out of the corner tighter then Colin, went under him and that’s how I made podium.”
Despite his first ever Red Hook Crit podium, Alec is Alec which means his (outspoken) goals remain very humble “My goals? My goals is to finish Barcelona without crashing, hoping that this third time I get lucky.” About his team “Yeah I love racing with those guys. It’s nice knowing any one of us is happy to sacrifice their own race and just ride for one of us to get the win, think that was pretty precedent in Brooklyn, london just was what it was. The overall isn’t looking so strong now due to punctures and all that, so it’s takes a bit of pressure off and we can just let us all have some fun and get the job done, gonna be great I reckon.”