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Mean course! Many start, but few finish bike race in Navy Yard

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1/5
Speed racers: One hundred cyclists pedaled around a short, technical course around the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the high-speed Red Hook Criterium, held on June 8.
2/5
Danger zone: There were more than a dozen crashes at turns around the technical course.
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Survival of the fittest: Only five out of 100 cyclists finished the 26-lap course.
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The victor!: Four-time Red Hook Criterium winner Neil Bezdek pedaled over the finish line at 45 minutes and 44 seconds. Bezdek will move on to the next leg of the global championship cycle series in Barcelona, Spain on Aug. 24.
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Popping bottles: The top cyclists, including Manhattanite Neil Bezdek, celebrated their triumph.

You don’t have to stand on Jay Street to watch bicyclists get into accidents.

Thousands of spectators gathered in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on June 8 to watch the second heat of the Red Hook Criterium — a four-part cycling series that started on the streets of Red Hook — and saw just five of the 100 Lycra-clad cyclists on brakeless, single-speed bikes complete the 26-lap race that featured a dozen crashes.

And the race’s promoter was not shocked by the many pile-ups.

“It was a combination of the chicane having a very difficult transition from right to left and riders pushing their bikes beyond the limits of traction,” said David Trimble, who added that one rider got seriously injured during the qualifying round. “As a race organizer it was difficult to see so many crashes.”

In the end, Manhattan cyclist Neil Bezdek successfully defended the crown he earned in the first leg of the event, at the Brooklyn Crusie Terminal in Red Hook, beating second-place finisher Kyle Murphy by just two-tenths of a second.

Bezdek savored the victory, and said that going into the race, he understood remaining on two wheels was going to be difficult.

“I knew that bike handling would be even more important than fitness,” said Bezdek, a four-time Red Hook Crit winner. “I also knew that it would be really tough to pass other riders and avoid crashes, so I sacrificed a lot of energy to stay ahead of the chaos.”

The next leg of the race will be on Aug. 24 in Barcelona, Spain, and then it’s off to the finale in Milan, Italy in early October where the first-ever Red Hook Crit world champion will be crowned.

But those interested in heading across the pond to see the race in person shouldn’t anticipate so many crashes on a course designed to see which rider is in the best physical shape.

“It will feature a difficult course with easier corners,” said Trimble. “But significant elevation changes will really test each rider’s fitness.”

As an aside that will explain our lead to this story, Brooklyn Paper voters last year named Jay Street the borough’s most dangerous street with a dedicated bicycle lane on which to ride a two-wheeler.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 9:28 pm, April 28, 2015
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