Every Red Hook Crit some new riders make their debut. Some struggle to qualify, while others finish in the top-10 straightaway. Dutchman Davíd van Eerd (27) did the latter. Making his debut in RHC BCN No.4 last year, David finished in 7th place. A year later we talked to Davíd about how is his fixed crit career is progressing and what he expects from Barcelona this year.
Text: Date Burgerjon
Davíd (yes with a í) started racing bikes relatively late. “I think I was 15 or 16. My brother already did races and my dad was a leisure cyclist.” The first couple of years weren’t anything like his fixed gear debut. “I really struggled to get results in the first two years, I think it wasn’t until the third year that I made the podium a couple of times.”
Becoming a u23-rider meant Van Eerd started to participate in the national classics. “I quickly found out that the classics where not for me. I really struggled with the long distance, and the echelons did not suit my rider characteristics.” Through a fellow cycling club member David got in touch with the Global Cycling Team (a team of guest riders that rides smaller UCI stage races), and rode some UCI stage races like Tour of Azerbaijan, Tour of Egypt, Tour of Thailand and Tour of Taihu Lake. “The sprint stages really suited me, as well as the fact you do not have to fight against the wind, like in the Dutch Classics.”
In his third year as a u23-rider David shifted his focus to crits. “I used to think of crits as a preparation for the classics, but then I realized that I was actually preforming much better in the crits. So I did the crits in combination with the stage races. (…) but since my studies became really busy — David studies medicine — I almost only raced crits,” Van Eerd explains.
David rode his first fixed crit in May 2016. “During the winter, I saw the fixed gear crits on Facebook and thought: maybe I should try it out. I already had a track bike, so I did some endurance training on it that winter. And in spring I did the Ronde van Katendrecht.”
His first fixed crit went really well, finishing second behind Paolo Bravini and before Marius Petrache. “The first few laps I had some trouble holding the wheel, because I did not know how fast I could corner. But halfway through I was already feeling comfortable and I ended up almost winning the race.”
Even though his fixed debut went really well, David did not have any plans competing in a Red Hook Crit. “I was supposed to ride the Tour of Vietnam but when that fell through, I booked a ticket to Barcelona for Red Hook. (…) I was a bit skeptical at first. I did not want to fly out to Barcelona and not qualify.” Luckily for Van Eerd, he followed through. “Qualifying went really well. I did my hot lap with Olaf Wit and we worked really well together. I had the fastest time for quite a while. In the end I qualified in 19th place”.
Having done four fixed crits before RHC BCN No.4, David had some expectations of what a Red Hook Crit would be like. “It turned out to be way crazier than I ever imagined. So much adrenaline, it was like racing in a video game. I started in 19th place but before I knew what was going on I was in 30th place. Not short after that I crashed in the hairpin and dropped to the 50th place or something. It took me almost half the race before I understood what I had gotten myself into and started gaining places every lap. Especially for the first time it’s so chaotic, it’s like a mass sprint from the start and it almost never slows down.”
After ending up in 7th place in his debut David decided to continue his fixed gear crit adventure. “It was so fucking dope. I crashed, but still I finished almost on the podium. But not only in the race, the whole experience. Everyone was so relaxed and they were so happy for my performance.” Riding his first RHC for his club team, his performance did not go unnoticed. “A week after Barcelona I got a call from Stefan from 8-bar if I wanted to join his team.”
After Barcelona David was placed in the ‘fast’ qualifying group for the RHC MLN No.7. “It was totally different from Barcelona. Instead of five to ten guys going fast, in this qualifying group where fifty guys going really fast. I couldn’t set a proper time. I tried three times without any luck. I qualified like 84th or something, way in the back”.
The race on the other hand, went really well. “I started on the last row with Stefan Shafer, we gained places every lap, and with eight laps to go we were in the front of the race. Stefan attacked right away and won. Too bad I was on the other side of the road when he attacked. I don’t know if I could have followed, but still.”
During Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10 David got his best result so far, finishing 5th. “That race went really well, despite a heavy crash.” Asked about what he considers the best Red Hook Crit David says: “I loved Barcelona, but Brooklyn is so intense: the crowd, the location, and the fact that it’s the first one. (…) and the course is so technical, but really fast as well”.
Red Hook Criterium London No.3 was a race to quickly forget. “I’m never good in the rain, but I crashed and then I punctured my tire on the finish line, I never made it back to the front.”
After London David has had some excellent results winning the 8-bar crit in Berlin and the Rapha Nocturne in Copenhagen. “I feel really good, maybe even better than before Brooklyn.” With a course showing some resemblance to the one in Brooklyn, Van Eerd looks like he should be about to have his best race yet. “The course looks really nice. My ambition for Barcelona is the podium. I just hope I will have a race where everything turns out right for once.”