Although Colin Strickland didn’t win Red Hook Crit London No.3, he was one of the biggest winners taking the general classification into account as Colin jumped over Stefan Schafer and now leads the RHC general classification. However, Colin is not a guy who lets his race tactics be determined by the GC as his famous motto is “win the race and you get the most points. That is how I won the RHC series last year as well.” On top of that, Colin was far from feeling great as several crashes in the weeks prior to Red Hook Criterium London No.3 disrupted his training regime and his feeling on the bike. Nonetheless, Colin sees his RHC London No.3 experiences as an incident, “London was about survival, Barcelona is going to be business as usual.”
Text: Brian Megens
Photography: Tornanti.cc The days prior to London Colin wasn’t thinking about possible rain on race day. However, when the rain came pouring down it did do something with him. “The speed was lower, I was dragging too much, and physiologically I was stressed out because of the crashes I suffered the weeks before. So I was really racing with safety first (…) I was riding too conservatively (…) I decided not to take risks, I played safe, and it sort of worked, I mean I almost even got a podium. Coming to think about it I think that I led 6 out of 7 last RHC final laps.”
Colin started the day in his heat with a clear plan for himself and the team. “We knew that Alec Briggs from Specialized-Rocket Espresso probably had one goal, try to avoid me winning the heat and take points. So, we adjusted our plan to that and tried to get Alec off my wheel, not by pushing but by trying to get a gap on him, you know (…) in a friendly manner as Alec is a great dude and a friend off the bike but you know it is a bike race and everyone wants to win it.”
Looking back on Red Hook Criterium London No.3 Colin acknowledges that he did make one mistake. “I was riding 48×14 with 68 PSI and I should have geared down as it took me way too long to accelerate after the corners as the speed is lower meaning that I had to adjust my gearing to it.” However, it is unlikely that this would have changed Colin’s result as later he acknowledges that “My main priority was to stay on the bike, to stay safe. I was too aware of the fact that anybody else’s mistake could cost my race. When going for a win in a bike race you always have to be willing to take risks, and I just didn’t have that mind-set, I just wanted to stay up on the bike and survive the race, surprisingly I came close to have an opportunity to win the race in the last laps (…) Anyways fighting the gearing the whole race was exhausting, and didn’t have that extra afterburner, that extra half lap. I have to mention though that my team mate Marius Petrache was riding like an absolute boss. He was taking corners like a crazy guy, the speed but he always was comfortable while doing so, really impressive.”
Although Colin is the big winner coming out of London as he is the new GC leader as Stefan Schafer didn’t take any points due to a flat tire in the final, he doesn’t focus on it. “I don’t like the idea to ride the bike and focus on points. The fact is, win the race and you get the most points. I don’t want to ride for the GC but I want to ride to win each race with me or anyone else from the team. I don’t want to race negatively but create an animated race. We are in show business, and it is more fun.
Regarding the material changes Colin has a clear opinion too. “What Alec did is simply incredible, it seems like for this guy it doesn’t matter where he starts as he always seems to find his way to the front of the race. I am also all for having material changes in the race as it at least gives riders a chance of coming back in the race especially knowing that most travelled for days and invested a lot of their own money to get there. However, for safety reasons it might be good to have a clear area on the course where all changes need to take place simply for the reason that changing on a live course is potentially very dangerous.
Colin is looking forward to Red Hook Criterium Barcelona No.5 especially as he will have a new strong team mate, Cesar Valenzuela. “Barcelona is going to be the same tactics, with a stronger team that has more firepower, call it better salsa. Cesar is going to come to Austin where he will get his new bike and we are going to train together. I will do my very best to get him prepared. Mentor talent like him is awesome to do, I mean he is f*cking talented (don’t tell him that). For my own race, I am planning to be a little bit more aggressive, to be the same Colin as in other RHC outside London last time. You can put this in your title: London was about survival, Barcelona is going to be business as usual.”