Red Hook Report
Last weekend the Red Hook Crit came thundering into London town for the second instalment in the 2017 series. Coming into London as series leader, Team Specialized Rocket Espresso’s Stefan Schafer was looking like the man to beat, but a horror show run of bad luck struck the Specialized team in the men’s final.
The Red Hook Crit is always a great place to spot beautiful bikes, with the unique Specialized Allez models ridden by the team standing out in a field of standouts. These fixed-gear versions of our market-leading aluminium frame are perfect for the hurly burly world of crit racing and have carried Team Specialized riders to victories in this and previous series.
You can even pick yourself up a version of the team’s bikes, which have been produced for general purchase in some very limited numbers.
The incredibly wet conditions during the day led to a lot of crashes in qualifying, but all three of the Team Specialized men made it through to the final. Carla Nafria was the only team rider in the women’s competition and she too made the final.
From the start of the men’s final race things were going wrong for the team, with Stefan Schafer getting a rear wheel puncture in one of the opening laps. The race was on then for the team mechanic to get Schafer’s wheel swapped out before the field finished their next lap. In the end, despite the valiant efforts of the mech, the peloton came thundering by a dejected Schafer just before he was able to get back on his bike.
From there it was up to Alec Briggs, home favourite among the fans, and Eamon Lucas, to bring home the bacon for Specialized. Lucas’ job was clearly to sit on the front and keep the pace high, while Briggs lurked in the pack conserving energy.
And then a tremendous crash heaped more bad luck onto team Specialized. Lucas was taken out by a rider behind and there were so many riders on deck that the organisers neutralised the race. This played, fortunately, into the hands of Briggs who had, on the very same lap, been distances due to a flat tyre. While the organisers were sorting out the aftermath of the crash Briggs was able to take a spare wheel from Schafer’s first bike to replace his flat. Lucas, meanwhile, needed a whole change of bike – with Schafer handing over his.
With Lucas badly dazed by his fall and bleeding from his temple, Alec Briggs was left to shoulder the burden of the team for the rest of the race. When racing resumed, Briggs was placed in the second group on the track, some 15 seconds behind the leaders. The roar of fans as he set about closing that gap was among the loudest of the day.
With Lucas fading fast and dropping back through the group, Briggs went on battling. He bridged the gap and even put down some punishing laps at the front. In the end though, outgunned and tired from his bridging effort, he could only manage third in a sprint which was won by Italian rider Filippo Fortin.
The women’s race was similarly affected by crashes, with Carla Nafria taken out in the final laps and eventually crossing the line 23rd.
With a format so successful, it seems like only a matter of time before we see more locations added to the Red Hook series. Which city in the UK would you like to see the Red Hook Crit expand to? Would you like to see Briggs and co bring it in Bristol, hammering themselves in Harrogate or pounding the pedals round Plymouth?
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