Fixed Gear Crit

Ash Duban’s Red Hook Criterium Barcelona No.5: how a crazy morning turned into victory

It is 8am in Barcelona, Ash Duban wakes up, it is race day, Red Hook Criterium Barcelona No.5 will kick-off in just a couple of hours. Ash doesn’t feel great, she isn’t comfortable with her bike. The bike she wants is ridden by her teammate Emily Beaudoin but is a bike change on race day smart or even doable? Ash decides to take the risk, “I asked Emily if I could get on her bike and then she would go on mine. Of course, this is a crazy thing to ask a team mate to do this, but it was originally my bike and I felt more comfortable on that one and I was really eager on a good result in Barcelona. On top of that, she is a mechanic. So [that’s what] we did, she swapped everything for me, I rode her saddle, she rode mine. All I can say is that I am very thankful to her, she could have had a better race on her own bike but in the end we won it and that is what counts. Without her I might not have won it.” Ash tells us from a hotel room in India where she has to be for work.
Text: Brian Megens
Photography: Björn Lexius

After 2 races in the Red Hook Crit Series, the reigning champ wasn’t happy about her results.the race in Brooklyn was too slow which made it more dangerous. I got overtaken with 2 laps to go and I am not willing to take certain risks I guess. I maybe need to learn how to elbow people. I still ended 5th but on the race in London I am really bummed. I was riding top-5 the whole time and was in 6th position going into the last 3 laps when I got a flat. I rode the rim in those wet conditions for the last 2 laps to finish 17th.”

“In the weeks prior to Red Hook Criterium Barcelona No.5 I raced crits, track nationals, all combining with my full-time job. In the week before the race I stayed in Girona (a town nearby Barcelona). My aim for Barcelona was to do better than RHC BK 10, I wanted that podium.”

In the heat, Raphaele Lemieux impressed Ash. “She was so strong in the qualifications she crashed in front of me in turn 2, I don’t know how but I could avoid the crash. I heard after the race that she had a flat in the final but honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if she had won it. I like her a lot, her attitude, she is a strong racer and amazing athlete.

This year Red Hook Crit massively changed the qualification system and among the many changes, the Super Pole was introduced. Ash has mixed feelings on a Super Pole in the women’s field. “The Super Pole is kinda weird, some people completely sit up because they don’t care. There is no motivation to go fast, for the women the start grid makes zero difference if you’re a strong rider. I planned to go slow, but I couldn’t hold myself.” Ash says with a smile. “It’s good to test your technical ability. I didn’t like the course at first, but for some reason I start liking it more after I spent more time riding my bike on it. I have to say though that turn 2 was dodgy, I almost slipped out a few times and I made sure to be extra careful there. I am amazed that there were not more crashes.”

On the question if she changed her tactic when she heard that Raphaele Lemieux was out Ash answers “I didn’t know that Raphaele was out, I mean she wasn’t there so I guessed something was up but I didn’t know what. I already attacked several times until Ainara went. I worked before she attacked so I had to wait and recover a bit. Then I jumped but not super hard, it took me longer to get there as hoped but I didn’t want to burn all my matches.”

“I was surprised no one was on my wheel. This thing happened in London in last year, and now it sorta happened again with the exception that we didn’t lap the whole field. I am happy that Tanja got 3rd she deserved it as she worked really hard during the race.”

Ash had a clear tactic going into the last laps with Ainara. “When I got to Ainara I made sure to save some energy as I know how strong she is. I mean she is a UCI pro cyclist. She probably thought she was a better sprinter than me. She wasn’t worried about me, maybe that she couldn’t get me off her wheel should have been a signal to her. I knew that I could take the hairpin sharper and faster than her. With that thought I went into the last lap, that is what I am going to do and that is how I did it. I knew what to do in that corner, take it on the inside forcing her to go out and sprint. Thank you David to put that corner there. Before the race I didn’t expect to win it, I am super happy with it!”
There is only 1 thing that Ash wants to change next year in Barcelona. “I stayed in Girona until Thursday, so there was no partying and didn’t even go to the beach in Barcelona. As everyone knows, RHC Barcelona is so much more than the race, missing this all made me feel a bit disconnected. Because I had to put the prize bike somewhere I didn’t even get the chance to celebrate the win at the after-party.”

“My goal for Red Hook Criterium Milano 8? Stay in the front and be on the podium!”