It is a sunny April day in New York when Colin Strickland walks in the Red Hook Criterium office. With the sunglasses and cap the Rockstar of Red Hook Criterium is almost unrecognisable. RHC Brooklyn No.10 is only a couple days away and Colin is in a good mood. His new team, the pressure and expectations coming from the results of last season, it doesn’t look like it bothers him. The only thing he can talk about that day is how cool his new bike is. It looks like he’s confident about what is coming.
Colin Strickland announced a couple months before that he won’t represent Specialized in 2017 but that he will start his own team, Intelligentsia Racing. This was a great shock as Colin, together with his partner in crime Aldo Ino Ilesic, dominated the 2016 RHC series with winning 3 out of 4 races and winning the Team General Classification with only 2 riders. However, by leaving Specialized, the magic couple was separated and everybody was curious how this would affect the races in the RHC series. For Colin the pressure was high as he won 3 RHC’s in 2016. We know today that Colin wouldn’t win any Red Hook Crit in 2017. Thus, the season can be seen as a disappointment. However, one has to put this in perspective as Colin still managed to get a 2nd place in RHC BK No.10. Moreover, in Barcelona Colin was even leading the Red Hook Criterium general classification but crashed out that race which meant the end for his GC ambitions. In short, with a bit more luck Colin could have still been the man to beat for 2018 but faith decided otherwise. We asked Colin how he looks back on his season, with special attention to the Red Hook Crits, and how he experienced setting up his own team, Intelligentsia Racing.
Text: Brian Megens
When asked about his experiences in setting up his own team Colin is very optimistic “I am completely happy with my decision. It is great to have a team that I can guide the vibe and goals, while determining how these decisions worked into the goals of our partners. My experience running my own racing program in 2017 has been awesome. I was fortunate to gather incredible support from the best in the business. I have had the freedom to design my schedule around the races I enjoy and excel. I have no regrets whatsoever. I learned that there is a huge amount of logistics and accounting involved in running any racing program. I knew this, but it’s still was shocking.”
However, Colin does acknowledge that not everything was perfect and he did learn a lot. “Rigorous preseason organization and scheduling is key. The more you complete upfront, the less work you will be scrambling to do during race blocks. This can ease stress considerably and allow you to focus on performing instead of running logistics.”
Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No. 10
“I feel very good with my performance in Brooklyn this year. Our team rode excellent, and we executed the plan of attack to near perfection. Alongside Specialized/Rocket-Espresso, we completely dominated the race and battled it did out for an exciting finish. While it’s easy to re-evaluate my strategy in the final lap, I would probably attack at the same spot! In order to win, you must risk losing.”
Red Hook Criterium London No.3
“Due to the pressure of overall series standings, the wet and slick conditions in London were very stressful. I rode beyond conservatively and made my way through the field very slowly. This was an energy intensive approach, focusing on taking only the safe but slow inside lines. I was very fatigued when I finally arrived at the front due to the huge number of hard accelerations out of the slow inside lines, but it was necessary to minimize risk of the errors of other riders. I spent the last few laps attacking the race to ensure I did not drift backwards into trouble. While missing the podium by one step was disappointing, I succeeded in taking the overall leader jersey and carrying it into Barcelona.”
Red Hook Criterium Barcelona No.5
“Barcelona was our most cohesive race as a team this season. We peppered the front of the race with attacks and followed every significant move of the evening. Kevin Girkins and Marius Petrache rode awesome and we were in great position going into the final laps despite failing to establish a breakaway as we would have preferred. Then things fell apart with Specialized’s crash heading into the final lap. We lost our commanding lead in the Team Overall as well as any chance of maintaing the individual series lead. But that’s bike racing.”
Red Hook Criterium Milano No.8
“Things went from bad to worse for me in Milan. I Picked up food poisoning bacteria on the way to Milan and was played for the next three days. I was physically debilitated the day of the race and despite my efforts, my body could not compete at a competitive level. It was a shame to finish the series like this, but again, bike racing is a fickle thing, full of highs and lows. In the final few laps my body shut down and I drifted off the back of the field, and began planning to unleash all my circumstantial rage in 2018.”
Overal Red Hook Criterium
“Intelligentsia Racing’s 2017 RHC season was clear demonstration of the highs and lows of bike racing. Despite the most diligent preparation, the racing gods often smite you for no apparent reason. The best you can do is prepare your body and mind for battle and pray to remain in the good graces of Gisallo. The series continues to evolve each year, and I need to analyze and adapt the team and strategy for success. It’s hard to pinpoint strategic shortcomings, but there were certainly lessons learned. As always, it was a wild ride unlike any other race in the world. Thanks to all the amazing people who make the event possible and follow our competitions worldwide! You guys make it all possible. Thank you for the support!”