Moved to September this year, record crowds gathered at RHC Barcelona No. 3 to watch some of the fastest and most tattooed track bike racers on the planet. With its NASA-size solar panel and post-industrial architecture dominating the beachfront, Parc del Fòrum was once again the main protagonist.
The new course layout with a lone hairpin turn was designed to be fast and furious. Deep and motivated fields, both finals set a blistering pace from the gun with no time for rest and nowhere to hide poor technique.
Series leader Ivan Ravaioli of Italy took the breakfast prime on the first lap from Colombian Mario Paz Duque who has a reputation for gift baskets, having won the previous four bonus sprints.
With 7 laps remaining, Ravaioli and Paz escaped off the front, with the Colombian doing all of the work, draping himself over his frame, riding in an aggressive humping style.
And with 3 laps to go, it was clear one of these riders would take home a Cinelli Vigorelli and the field was battling for third place. As Ravaioli and Paz became a blur of red with a 20 second gap, a race-neutralizing crash saw a red flag bring all 96 riders to a stop.
Suddenly RHC Barcelona No. 3 felt like going to penalty kicks in football when you can’t erase the memory of the game. Paz rode with his heart on his skinsuit, earning respect from the Spanish crowd chanting his name. In a split-second decision a course marshal had to determine whether to stop the race and race director David Tremble had to swiftly act. Tremble collected the riders for a two-lap restart, giving Ravaioli and Paz a 20 second head start on the field.
While the race neutralization was an anticlimax, Ravaioli attacked Paz with 600 meters to go, sprinting full gas out of the last turn to seal the victory. He was the strongest racer in Barcelona and Paz won the top antagonist award as the most aggressive rider.
The women’s race featured 45 competitors from 12 countries. Kacey Lloyd of the United States held off race favorite Ainara Elbusto by half a wheel for the sprint in the women’s final. Lloyd, who won the first ever Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn in 2008, pedaled to victory on a stars and bars Parlee track frame.
Elbusto won the first lap and midway sprints plus the fastest qualifying lap at 1:43:21. Fleur Faure of France was named the top antagonist for her lap 12 attack, ensuing crash, and grit to jump back in the race which won raucous approval from the crowd.
Team Cinelli Chrome rider Kelli Samuelson also had to seek medical help after a crash. She asked someone to translate in Spanish that the bandage the staff was applying to a nasty road rash on her leg was too small.
The fourth and final leg of the 2015 Red Hook Criterium Championship will be held October 11 in Milan. Once again, Paz should feel some love from the crowd riding for the Italian team Iride Modena.