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Crit-ical hit! Massive pileup mars Red Hook bike race • Brooklyn Paper

Crit-ical hit! Massive pileup mars Red Hook bike race

Stitch up: Cyclist Jeremy Santucci injured his eye during the men’s bike race.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It was a vicious cycle.

Dozens of bike riders crashed into the back of a motorcycle — and each other — at the Red Hook Criterium bicycle race on April 30, creating a massive pileup that sent several competitors to the hospital.

The nighttime road race around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is notoriously rough-and-tumble, but cyclists say this crash — one of several on the day — was nastier than usual.

“We all know the risk and it’s super dangerous, but that was above and beyond,” said Williamsburger Jeremy Santucci, who has been competing in the “Crit” for four years. “It was crazy.”

The trouble began when an official and his crotch rocket stalled near the start of the men’s final. Around half of the speedsters were able to swerve around the road hog, but once a couple of contestants clipped their pedals on the chopper, the back half of the field came crashing into the asphalt and each other’s Lycra-clad limbs, footage of the incident shows.

At least four riders went to hospital with injuries, and organizers delayed the race for an hour before those whose bodies and bikes were still in good shape were able to try again, according to a Velo News report — though the Fire Department said its ambulances did not take anyone to the infirmary.

The epic smash wasn’t the only carnage at the contest — several cyclists in the women’s finals also came crashing down along the three-quarter-mile course, according to the report.

And Santucci said he and around five others wiped out in the men’s semi-final when a newcomer hit the pavement and the guy’s bike flew into the air, its pedal cutting open a bloody gash above Santucci’s eye.

“It was one of the bad crashes — until the final,” said Santucci, who was just three laps off the finish line and is confident he would’ve made the final if not for the collision.

Texan Colin Strickland and Spaniard Ainara Elbusto ultimately won the men’s and women’s divisions respectively.

The Red Hook Crit began as an underground contest for road racers and bike messengers in 2008, and has since grown into a huge event with big-name sponsors, thousands of spectators, and legs in London, Barcelona, and Milan. The race now features the best of the best, Santucci said — not to mention the bravest.

“It’s basically the fastest track race and crit racers in the world,” said Santucci, adding that he raced motocross for 15 years, but the Red Hook bike race is more “intense.”

Santucci says he still plans to compete in the rest of the series.

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