Videos: Big crashes in 2 US races at weekend - one despite rider's warnings on course layout

Racer who came down at Crystal Cup after hitting marshal had raised concerns on course layout; crash at Red Hook Crit too

by Simon_MacMichael   June 11, 2013  

Crystal Cup crash (Patriot on Vimeo still)

It was quite a weekend for crashes in criteriums in the United States, as these two videos show – the second, from the Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn, New York City, is spectacular. But the first, at the Crystal Cup in Arlington, Virginia raises serious issues about race safety, and what’s more one of the riders involved had warned that the course layout made such an incident likely.

Crystal City from Patriot on Vimeo.

The crash in Sunday’s Crystal Cup race, part of the weekend's Air Force Association Cycling Classic, took place on an out and back section of the course, but one with no segregation between the opposite directions.

Instead, there’s a female marshal standing in the middle of the road, who is trying to get the peloton to move to the left ahead of a left-hand turn so that space is left for the three-man break about to come back down the course.

Out of shot, she’s hit by a rider at the rear of the peloton and knocked to the ground, the rider being catapulted across the road and into the path of the lead car ahead of the break – thankfully, it stops in time. As the peloton returns, helpers on the scene yell at the riders to ‘Go left!’ – unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, what is their left is the riders’ right, and some take the wrong line, including one who hits the marshal (treated later in hospital for minor injuries) and himself comes down.

That rider was Tim Rugg, who wrote on his blog:

This crash is just insane.  For years I've been saying that there would be a serious crash in this out and back section of the Crystal Cup course in the Air Force Classic and of course I fall victim. 

What the video doesn't show is a cyclist from the main field clipping the official as the official seen laying on the road tries to clear out of the way to allow the breakaway that has about thirty seconds on the field led by the Volt pace car is about to come through. 

The incident is unknown to anyone in the main field and we come out of the final corner of the course upwards of 30mph causing a whip that creates a chain reaction of the riders behind having to accelerate out of the corner to maintain position. 

I always took the outside line due to the shield from the draft and of course having no idea the field would have to jump three car lanes right to avoid the chaos the crash caused right in the middle of the course. 

Honestly, I don't know how I didn't break anything besides my bike trying to bunny-hop the official, whom I've heard is okay.  I rolled over my handlebars and the instinct to try and bunny hop kept me gripping the bars saving me from breaking a wrist or collarbone. I walked away and got cleaned up in the ER with tons of road rash and a deep gash in my elbow being the worst of my injuries. 

There were certainly barriers at the Red Hook Crit - one of the riders involved in a spectacular chute there went flying right over them, together was his bike.

The crash at the evening race, ridden on track bikes at a derelict Navy yard in Brooklyn, came on a corner that from reports we’ve seen was the scene of chutes throughout Saturday’s programme.

One rider goes down on a corner, a second goes wide but hits his bike, a third runs into the back of the first man to fall and somersaults, his bike flying through the air, while that fourth man, trying to avoid those already on the ground, runs into the barriers and is tossed over them.

We haven't seen reports of any injuries, so hopefully everyone - riders and fans alike - got away unscathed.

14 user comments

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Wow, the way that guys bike just flew into the crowd was pretty insane...

I can understand why the course layout is unsafe too though for the firs one. Having a U turn that means you back onto the same road so soon when there aren't any barriers etc it quite bonkers to be honest.

Not really sure what happened in the first instance with the car mind.

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posted by BenMWilliamson [28 posts]
11th June 2013 - 8:52

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the guy that flies over the barrier with his bike just about hits a cyclist spectator who is filming - do you think he makes any effort to put his camera away and help the unfortunate racer? Nope. Under no circumstances should one compromise potential youtube fame. Thinking

posted by Metjas [269 posts]
11th June 2013 - 9:12

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I can't believe they're shouting "left" at the riders instead of right.. If I was a rider with my head down, chewing someone else's back wheel, I woulda gone left... not right.

Dave Walsh
Writer, Photographer
http://www.davewalshphoto.com

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posted by davewalshphoto [6 posts]
11th June 2013 - 10:52

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Metjas wrote:
the guy that flies over the barrier with his bike just about hits a cyclist spectator who is filming - do you think he makes any effort to put his camera away and help the unfortunate racer? Nope. Under no circumstances should one compromise potential youtube fame. Thinking

Cynic much? I can't see that level of detail from this video so I can't tell if it is true or not, but I think that, considering everyone is immediately upright and seemingly uninjured (amazingly enough) that it's okay to act like that. For all you know he said 'alright mate?' and the riders replied 'yeah'.

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
11th June 2013 - 10:52

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Riders will quite properly use every bit of road available - so it's up to the organisation to make sure physical separation is in place, in that way potential head-on can be prevented. Exposing that poor marshal to the level of risk shown in the vidoe is unacceptable. Amazing when you consider how litigious the US is - I'm pretty sure if that happened here in UK there would be some very awkward questions to be answered. One of which would be who did the risk assessment and why did the race officials let the race start with the potential for a rider to rider head-on incident?
Even worse if the report is correct this has been happening in previous editions and mentioned as a risk point, so why has nothing been done before?

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
11th June 2013 - 11:25

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LEFT....GO LEFT...ok, we will...BOOM, just aswell most of the cyclists looked up and moved RIGHT.

Dumb ass police and sheriff's.

In the second video, the crowd are shouting to "get the flag out" I'm guessing they have some sort of safety flag like a yellow in F1? Thinking

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posted by Gkam84 [8665 posts]
11th June 2013 - 12:15

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Gkam84 wrote:
LEFT....GO LEFT...ok, we will...BOOM, just aswell most of the cyclists looked up and moved RIGHT.

Dumb ass police and sheriff's.

In the second video, the crowd are shouting to "get the flag out" I'm guessing they have some sort of safety flag like a yellow in F1? Thinking

Unless they have a flag to wave to offer a visual clue as to which direction to head.

Like a triangular flag with the point of the triangle aiming in the direction they want the riders to go (I haven't watched the video in work yet so I could be as far out as a lighthouse).

posted by farrell [1275 posts]
11th June 2013 - 12:31

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@1.09 that little police officer with his back to the approaching pack probably aged 10 there....lol

could have been much much worse, glad everyone isnt that hutr

posted by mrchrispy [281 posts]
11th June 2013 - 12:39

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The first crash is entirely ridiculous, but the comments from the racer are a bit silly. By all means try and get the organisers to change the course, and petition them on safety, but at the end of the day, if you think a race is too dangerous, then use your head and don't enter or refuse to race if it's a team event.

posted by JDee [9 posts]
11th June 2013 - 12:39

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doc wrote:
Amazing when you consider how litigious the US is - I'm pretty sure if that happened here in UK there would be some very awkward questions to be answered.
Even worse if the report is correct this has been happening in previous editions and mentioned as a risk point, so why has nothing been done before?

You would have to sue them if its happened more than once as they have demonstrated that they cannot safely run a race. If that is the case, they are a liability.

posted by zanf [420 posts]
11th June 2013 - 12:56

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Not KOM wrote:
Metjas wrote:
the guy that flies over the barrier with his bike just about hits a cyclist spectator who is filming - do you think he makes any effort to put his camera away and help the unfortunate racer? Nope. Under no circumstances should one compromise potential youtube fame. Thinking

Cynic much? I can't see that level of detail from this video so I can't tell if it is true or not, but I think that, considering everyone is immediately upright and seemingly uninjured (amazingly enough) that it's okay to act like that. For all you know he said 'alright mate?' and the riders replied 'yeah'.


plenty of detail on video, guy just carries on filming while others help out.

posted by Metjas [269 posts]
11th June 2013 - 13:22

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I've done that race in VA. They should definitely have center barriers through there. It's too hard to try to control a pro peloton with a lone official.

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posted by pedalpowerDC [201 posts]
11th June 2013 - 15:11

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There's no way that Crystal City crit course would get sanctioned in the UK - I'm a BC Commissaire and couldn't contemplate allowing a race to proceed where riders aren't segregated i.e. physical barriers down the centre of the road. The woeful provision of a single, unprotected marshal in the middle of the road was an accident waiting to happen.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
11th June 2013 - 19:00

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The guy is shouting GO LEFT....

HIS left...

The rider's right.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

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posted by Cooks [477 posts]
11th June 2013 - 20:15

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