Red Hook Criterium just released the men’s and women’s starters list with the qualification heats on their website. We analysed the men’s heats to break-down what we can expect from the battles for the RHC Barcelona No.5 final spots. As in the women’s field there are only 2 heats and everyone in the has a guaranteed starting spot in the final we limited this analysis to the men’s field only.
Text: Brian Megens
On paper this heat by far the toughest qualification group. It is packed with top riders as 5 top 15 RHC GC riders are in it. Filippo Fortin and Stefan Schafer are the biggest names in this heat which might turn into a small battle between Bahumer Racing and Specialized-Rocket Espresso as from Bahumer Racing Filippo Fortin, Giovanni Longo, and Alvise Zanasca are in while the Specialized – Rocket Espresso colours are defended by Stefan Schafer and Alec Briggs. All of the just mentioned names have either won a RHC or a RHC qualification heat. Other big names in the heat are Evan Murphy, Matteo Cecchini, and Luis Junquera. While Chris Tolley, Yannick Mayer, Javier Benitez cannot be underestimated either. Other names to take into account are MTB-ers Yvan Morf, and Dario Gemperle. Fun fact, Miguel Indurain is also in this heat although this is not to be ‘the’ Miguel Indurain, it’s not far off as it’s his son.
Although Heat 1 is more packed, heat 2 is a serious one too with Davide Vigano, Tristan Uhl, Timon Seubert, Robin Gemperle, David Santos, and Eamon Lucas. Other riders that can compete for top places in this heat are Gemain Burton and Emanuele Poli. It would not be a surprise if these riders, together with 3-4 others, form a group and distance themselves from the rest.
Heat 3 only has 1 top-10 rider, Martino Poccianti current ranked 4th, however, it is packed with many potential RHC podium candidates. Tim Ceresa, George Garnier, Roberto Pagliaccia, Brian Megens, Ivan Ravaioli, Robert Evans, and Matteo Sangalli all have RHC points. On top of that, Stefan Vis, Thibaud Lhenry, Francesco Chicchi, and Til Schuster can surprise the field on a good day.
Like the previous heat, heat 4 also has only 1 top-10 rider, Marius Petrache current ranked 5th. Also in this heat there are quite a few names with RHC points. Olivier Leroy, William Lewis, Riccardo Melandri, Paolo Bravini, Euan Cattermole, and Luca Ursino have gathered RHC points this season. Stefan Schott and Luc Ducrot are other riders that should be able to compete with the best in this heat. However, all eyes will probably be on how Justin Williams, the man with 10 US pro crit road wins this year, will hold up.
Has the current and defending RHC Champion, Colin Strickland, in it and his former team mate Aldo Ino Ilesic. David Van Eerd, who came very close to the RHC podium several times, Marco Poccianti, Edwin Van Kerkhof, Alex Blomeley, Alessandro Mariani, and Johannes Killisperger all have RHC points. Besides these names Andrea Vassallo, Chas Christiansen, Augusto Reati, Bram Linnartz, Kaj Verhaeg, and Cesar Valenzuela are names to also keep an eye on.
Conclusion: on paper, heat 1 looks by far the most packed heat with a very interesting battle between Bahumer Racing and Specialized-Rocket Espresso that can happen. On the other hand, heat 5 can become an interesting battle between the 2 giants of RHC, Colin Strickland and Aldo Ino Ilesic. Heat 2, 3 and, 4 barely seem to differ quality wise. For the full start list click here.