For the third year, the Greenwich Peninsula in London hosted a round of the Red Hook Criterium series. Again the round on the 22nd of July took place in the series after the Brooklyn round, with the same 950m circuit as 2016, just being cycled in the opposite direction this year.
The weather in London for the week leading up to London No.3 was dry & sunny, similar to what the previous two London events had enjoyed. However true British summertime weather was on the cards, arriving just in time for the first of the qualifying races shortly after midday.
With the constant rain (some wind too) & a slick track surface, all of the qualifying races began with some slower exploration laps in order for the riders to explore their limits.
The initial open warm up session was probably one of the best of the day weather wise, with the rain only really picking up towards the end of the session.
The Specialized Rocket Esspresso team had a large tent in which to relax/warm up under, away from the elements. Though it was quite often full of people escaping the rain too! Here's Eamon Lucas on the rollers preparing for his qualifying race.
If they didn't have a tent, lots of riders sheltered from the rain in vehicles/motorhomes etc, with bikes waiting in the warm up area until they were next required.
Ash Duban on the rollers before her race early in the evening, hoping to build on strong results of the past.
The 02 Arena & the ever changing landscape of the Greenwich Peninsula provided a fantastic backdrop for the racing. New sections of track were laid through building sites in order for the Red Hook Crit to go ahead. In future years, with developments in this area, the race could well have a real city centre crit feel.
Colin Strickland of Intelligentsia leads the way as another wet qualifying session draws to a close.
Checking out the stats on the cycle computer after a damp session on track.
Turn two, a 90 degree left hander leading onto the back straight (curve!) proved to be tricky for the riders, having to judge the balance between speed into the corner & acceleration out of the corner. Several people ended up in the hay bales during the course of the afternoon. In between sessions turns 1 & 2 had to be swept to help any standing water drain off & being a smaller risk to the athletes.
With no huge improvement in the weather conditions until late afternoon, focus was the name of the game for the riders. Large numbers ended up being lapped during the qualifying sessions, so having your eye on the ball was key.
Everyone who completed the Women's qualifying sessions automatically advanced to the evening race, due to the size of the field. These races just determined positions of the riders on the grid for the main race.
As a result of the poor weather conditions, the afternoon's Superpole sessions were called off, leaving a bit more time to prepare after the last chance race had finished.
After round 1 of the series in Brooklyn, Women's championship leader Eleonore Saraiva was in good spirits heading into London, backing that up with a strong performance in qualifying.
After her strong win in London last year, Olympic Gold medalist Dani King was now the rider everyone would be watching in order to prevent her lapping the field again.
Despite many attempts at a breakaway during the race, Dani King was unable to replicate her performance of 2016, with the field following her every move. She ended up finishing a more than respectable 5th place behind race winner Raphaele Lemieux, Eleonore Saraiva, Jasmine Dotti & Colleen Gulick.
The last race of the evening was the Men's crit on a circuit that was beginning to dry off, though there were still some damp patches around the course with multiple surfaces.
As the light faded, the racing around the 950m circuit ramped up, stringing the field out. This was until a red flag brought the action to a halt. Eamon Lucas hitting the deck on turn two, cutting his face. Though you cant keep a good man down, he continued racing after the restart & went on to claim the Rockstar Games top Antagonist award.
After picking up a puncture early on, local boy Alec Briggs of Specialized Rocket Espresso picked up team mate Stefan Schafer's bike and continued in pursuit, the red flag allowing him to bridge the gap.
After some hard & fast racing, he managed to pip Colin Strickland to 3rd place behind the winner Filippo Fortin & Davide Vigano.
As the post race podium celebrations began, so too did the rain (again!!) but far too late to dampen anyone's spirits. Alec Briggs pictured here wasting no time in popping open the champagne as the top three Women & Men shared the podium.
So another Red Hook Crit in London is in the books & despite the weather, the most successful in the city too. The crowds were out in force around the circuit (more than the previous two editions) ringing the bells & cheering the riders on.
The series moves on to Barcelona for round 3 on September the 2nd, but here's hoping London No.4 will be on the cards for 2018.