As the Red Hook Criterium Championship Series gets set for another big year, an exciting new event has been added with the first-ever women’s field. Popularity of the race has grown almost exponentially each year and demand for a place on the start grid has become intense. Qualifying rounds now sort out the true contenders and this year women will square off in their own field. Making it happen is none other than Kacey Manderfield Lloyd, winner of the inaugural Red Hook Crit in 2008, who returns to direct the women’s race series.
Interview & image: Chris Henry
The Red Hook Crit series kicks off with the traditional Red Hook race in Brooklyn, New York on March 29. Peloton caught up with Lloyd to get her unique perspective on what the new women’s field brings to the RHC.
Peloton: To date, the Red Hook Crit has retained a distinctive feature of running only one race category. What inspired the women’s field for the 2014?
Kacey Lloyd: A combination of factors, really. To start, the depth and strength of the RHC racers had grown to a point that made it very difficult for a female to compete for a top result. Additionally, there had been demand for a women’s field over the last few years and this year all the RHC sponsors stepped up in support of a women’s race. Everything alined and [RHC Director] David Trimble ultimately decided it was time to add a women’s field.
Is Brooklyn a test or is there sufficient interest and support for women’s fields throughout the series?
Brooklyn isn’t a test, it’s the kick off to the series. We are fully backing a women’s series this year and will have women’s races in Barcelona and Milan as well.
You’re not only a consistent RHC performer, you’re the first ever winner. What are you looking to achieve as race director?
Ultimately, I want to inspire the women to put on a great show. For now, I hope to be a helpful information source for all the ladies. They should not hesitate to reach out. When race day comes, my focus will be on managing all elements of the women’s race, with a top priority of keeping it safe. Additionally, I’m look forward to being part of the RHC team as a whole and helping out in any way I can.
Who do you see as favorites and which women have impressed you in previous RHC events?
I don’t have any race favorites; to me it’s a blank slate. Those that have raced RHC in the past have some idea of what to expect but the dynamic of the women’s race will be much different. I’m eager to see who the initiators will be. In the past it has been about which women could follow the moves of the men in the pack, now the women will get to make their own moves.
As far as women in previous RHC events, I have been impressed by all the women who have made it to the start line, especially those who have made it close to the final laps of the race.
The RHC draws a field of road racers, messengers, urban riders, track riders, etc. Do you see the same sort of diversity in background among the women?
Yes, I would say so. To be honest, I don’t know a lot of the women personally but from what I do know we have a good mix of backgrounds and a group of awesome racers.
Does a presumably smaller women’s field mean no need for qualifications, or is there any threshold one must pass to race?
The women will have a qualifying round to determine their spot on the starting grid, but their times will not eliminate them from the race. Having a women’s qualifying round allows the ladies to get in some track time before the race and facilitates a safe start.
Are you going to race, and if not, do you wish you could?
I will not be racing. In some ways I wish I could race but ultimately I’m really excited to be behind the scenes helping make it happen. I’m honored David asked me to help.
The RHC is known for high quality design and custom merchandize prizes. What does the women’s prize list look like?
Thanks to all of our incredible sponsors, the women will receive an equal prize list of both cash and merchandise. HatchMAP in particular stepped up as the primary benefactor of the women’s field, allowing us to offer equal cash prizes.
What advice would you offer the women, either first-time racers or RHC veterans?
The women are welcome and encouraged to reach out with any questions. My advice:
– Stay calm and ride predictably
– Gear recommendation is 48×15 (or 84-88 gear inches)
– Err on the side of a smaller gear as there is a lot of decelerating and accelerating, which will wear on the racers
– Take advantage of the qualifying time to gauge what gear you want to race and to find the most efficient lines through each of the corners
– Be safe and have fun!
peloton is proud to return as the media sponsor for the Red Hook Crit Championship Series in 2014.
Learn more at redhookcrit.com