Fixed Gear Crit

Rider in Spotlight: Q&A Marius Petrache “I have been teammates with Chris Froome”

Class of ’87, Marius Petrache begins cycling at the age of 11. He quits after just one month and switches to water polo, which he continues for another 3 years with no great results. On his 14th birthday he decides to get back on his bike and joins the Dinamo Bucharest cycling team, training for both track and road. That’s when results begin to arrive. In 2003 he wins 2 national titles on the track, just the beginning of an overall 29 national titles conquered in mtb, road, cyclocross & track. Equally comfortable sprinting, climbing, time-trialling or racing stages, Marius is the prototype of the uber-complete rider.   
Text: Michele Colucci / vimeo: michele colucciinstagram: mikelone77
If we’re not mistaken you raced your first Red Hook Crit back in 2013 in Milan (a solid 5th place). How has the sport evolved and which aspect of your crit racing do you feel has improved the most in these last 4 years?
My first RHC was in 2013 and I did finish 5th, that’s all correct. Back then the event had already turned into a big thing, and me being at a competition of that level was pretty insane. It wasn’t just about the level of the competition, it was the spectators as well. I felt like being in a world championship or something like that. At every RHC stage the public is crazy loud and beautiful, and that’s something I love.
In 2013 I was racing for an Italian professional mountain bike team (Giant Italia Team) and had already won multiple national titles and made it on international podiums. RHC at the time didn’t have that many pro riders in the peloton. I actually remember being at the front on the start line, ready for my qualifying session. I was standing next to Evan Murphy, one of my favorite riders. He looks at me, has no clue who I am and tells me to go in the back, and I quote, “you messenger hipster”…Maybe the riders’ level wasn’t as high as today, but perhaps the ego of some of them was, hahahaha!

It’s pretty obvious that the sport has grown exponentially. It will keep on growing and that’s only a good thing. Regarding my crit abilities I was already kinda crazy, going fast in the corners and handling my bike fairly well. I believe my short-term explosive power has improved.

What was the best thing about riding for Team Cinelli Chrome last year and what’s the best thing of riding for Intelligentsia this year?
As a child, I started cycling on the velodrome and we had a few Cinelli bikes which only the elite guys could ride, not the juniors…They were 40-year old frames, absolute classics! So when I got to race for Team Cinelli Chrome it was like a dream come true. That was the best thing as well as the connection between everyone, just like a family, something I noticed at large in the fixed gear world. I believe the #cinellifamily hashtag represents that perfectly.
Stepping into the Intelligentsia team came as a surprise since it was managed by last year’s RHC champion Colin Strickland. Being with big names in cycling like Pinarello and Giordana for me really meant going to the next level, a dream come true!
I have been teammates with Chris Froome at the World Cycling Center back in 2007 and even though I place high expectations on myself I never thought I would find myself racing for Pinarello, on one of their bikes. Actually, the same bike as Omnium Olympic champion Elia Viviani!
What made you change team?
It was not my decision, it was the Cinelli management. They decided they wanted an all-Italian team.

You’re currently sitting in 9th position in the championship and so far – apart from Barcelona where you ended 55th (DNF) – you’ve always been with the top riders at the finish line. It looks like a pretty amazing season to us, what do you think?
Thanks, I agree with you! :)) I’m really satisfied with my season and with my position in the championship so far. By the way, before Barcelona (Colin sat in first while I was 5th with the same points as the guy in 4th) I was really aiming for top 3 in the championship (I mean 2nd or 3rd…haha!). That crash was basically a mess for our standings and we hope to recover. We lost first place in the team standings and Colin lost first place in the GC but I’m sure we will do better. We’ll definitely be on the podium in Milan!
In Barcelona you had a really great qualifying & super pole, which allowed you to start from the 14th position. Then everything went south during the last lap when you were involved in the Stefan Schaefer crash and (almost?) snapped your collar bone. Can you describe a bit more in detail your personal point of view of that last lap?
Yeah, I felt really good during the entire race and sat in a perfect position. Well, I guess the crash will have some say that it actually WASN’T the perfect position…Crashing was a bummer, I can’t change that and I really couldn’t do anything to avoid it.

Regarding my injury, I suffered an acromio-clavicular joint dislocation. It translates in lots of pain and a lack of strength when pulling the handlebar. Even now, after 27 days, I’ve not yet fully recovered. In addition to that, now my shoulders are slightly asymmetrical…haha! But I do feel lucky not to have broken my collar bone!

Crit racing ain’t no walk in the park, that’s for sure, even though the thrill and adrenaline certainly drive athletes like you towards it. But is there something that, should it happen, would make you say “ok, I’m done”?
I’ve been racing  my whole life. I’ve made it through several rough crashes and situations that many would have considered as a sign to stop. Not me.
What will be your priority in Milan, fighting for Colin Strickland’s 2nd individual championship title or for Intelligentsia 1st team championship title?
Definitely both are priorities so we’ll work to achieve that.
Do you feel that bike frames have now found the perfect geometries for crit racing, and what’s the best material in your opinion?
I haven’t tried that many crit bikes but I can certainly say that the Pinarello frame is the stiffest I’ve seen until now. It also very much depends on the rider, what he likes and his own power output. In crit racing there’s a lot of variables. Rider, track and bike must be in perfect harmony in order to take that win. Personally, my favorite material is carbon and I also believe it’s the one that works best for most racing. But it’s really an open discussion and opinions can change from rider to rider.
Are you superstitious before a race? Any favorite ritual?
I’m not superstitious, I just need to handle my thoughts and focus on my concentration before the race. I do nothing specific except sleeping and eating, which certainly don’t qualify as superstitions!

Michele Colucci
Dead Cyclists Society
Copywriter & Videomaker
vimeo: michele colucci
instagram: mikelone77