Fixed Gear Crit

Ivan Cortina: I promised David Trimble in 2013 to race Red Hook Crit one day so in RHC Milano No.8 I did!

With a 5th and 3rd place in this years’ Vuelta stages, Ivan Cortina showed the world to be an elite level talent and world-class road racer at the age of 21. Ivan is born and raised in Gijon, Spain where he discovered road cycling in 2010. With his favourite race being Paris-Roubaix, and his performances on a World-Tour level so far, he probably is the biggest hope for the country in becoming its first rider to win this monumental classic. However, his talent isn’t limited to a road bike, he entered the Red Hook Crit circus in Red Hook Criterium Milano No.8 and went home with the win. His performance was outstanding, attacking after the first lap and by doing so creating and maintaining a break-away together with Alessandro Mariani. Besides this amazing show, it was very encouraging for fixed gear crit racing as a sport that Ivan wasn’t only allowed to race the crit by his team, he was representing his UCI World-Tour team Bahrain-Merida in the race and on top of that he was fully supported by Merida who supplied him with a fixed gear bike just a couple of days prior to the race. We spoke to Ivan to find out how he got in touch with fixed gear crit racing and Red Hook Crit, how he experienced RHC Milano No.8, how his win was received by his teammates, and if he has any future ambitions on the fixed gear bike.

Text: Brian Megens
Translation: Miqui Rueda Sureda

It may look like Ivan Cortina is new to fixed gear crit racing, and yes he doesn’t have a lot of experience in fixed gear crits, but he has been in the scene for quite some years. “I heard about it the first time in 2012 when I was junior. My friends from Santa Catalina went to red hook on that year, and my friend Enol Costales Cortina (not family) became 10th, and since then I always liked it. A year later I watched the Criterium Gijon and David Trimble was there too and right there I promised him that one day I would race it and so I did! I’ve always been commuting on a fixed gear, but until this year all of my teams they said no to fixed gear racing. However, this year my team, Bahrain-Merida did give me permission, so I raced Criterium Lugones in June and then Red Hook Crit Milano No.8 which was my second fixed gear crit race ever. I am really happy that the team and Merida liked the idea of racing some fixed gear crits. I’m so thankful to them to let me race Red Hook Crit. I mean being on a World Tour team it is always difficult when you talk about this kind of racing.”

David and Ivan go back quite some years

When asked about his RHC Milano No.8 preparations Ivan says “After the UCI U23 World Championships I was in Barcelona for a gravel race, the Geocentrum. After that, I had a few days holidays on the bike in Andorra. After all this, when I finally was back home, my Merida was waiting for me. I’ve done 2 days and about 3 hrs on it. I went outside of the city where the factories are, to practice some cornering skills.”

On his expectations before the race, Ivan is clear. “Honestly, I didn’t expect to win at all, the other guys are super fast and they have more experience than I do. From the outside, I even was a bit scared because I didn’t know what I was putting myself into, but once you’re on top of your bike you forget about everything. Qualifying was my first contact with Red Hook. At the beginning, I was a bit nervous I mean you can never take a Red Hook Crit qualification heat easy but my goal was to qualify straight away for the final, I did it and I even qualified for the Super Pole.”

After the Super Pole Ivan had a top-10 starting position and kicked it from the start. “I didn’t know that there was a prize on the first lap. I just stayed on a wheel and after we crossed the finish line everyone was slowing down, because of my high speed I just decided to keep going pretty hard maybe crazy but apparently it wasn’t that crazy. On top of that, for me it was probably easier than riding in the peloton. When you are in a break away you have your own line, pace and everything is easier.”

When Ivan and Mariani set-up the break-away the talking between them started and although they are from a different country, they understood each other well. “At the beginning I said to Mariani that we had time, that it could be a good breakaway. After we started talking about setting a good pace and at the end I was just telling him „A TOPE“ which in Spanish means full gas. We played good together and the plan was to make sure the race was between us, so I attacked the last lap.”

Although Cortina races world top road races in the front, Red Hook Criterium still amazed him. “It was an amazing experience. Racing during the night, hearing the crowd cheering and being in the middle of such an event…. simply an amazing experience. Even I would say it’s on the same level as the big road bike classics. Just after finishing I took my phone and all my teammates congratulated me in our WhatsApp group and also other friends from the pro peloton did the same.”

If we see Ivan back in the fixed gear peloton? “Probably yes if the team allows me I would love to repeat, it’s similar to cyclocross and it’s so much fun!”