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‘Tour’ de force! Cycling advocate wants to bring pro race to Billyburg

Call it the Tour de Williamsburg!

A New York-based cycling organization wants to bring a professional road race to North Brooklyn this September, connecting the best riders in the world to the cycling’s most fervid admirers.

John Eustice’s goal is to carve out a 1.4-mile route encompassing Kent, Metropolitan and Bedford avenues and N. 11th Street for three hours on a rain-free Sunday in September.

His dream is to use the 45-lap, 100-kilometer race to increase interest in the sport.

“The crowd can see the entire sprint from the corner at N. 11th Street,” he said. “It’s a beautiful finishing straightaway that lasts 350 meters or about 20 seconds. That’s a long sprint.”

Of any neighborhood in Brooklyn, Williamsburg is perhaps most synonymous with cycling, with debates raging over where to put a bike lane on Kent Avenue and transit advocates calling for improved safety measures on McGuiness Boulevard and the Williamsburg Bridge, and, of course, more bike racks.

But a road race featuring some of the best cyclists in the world is something else entirely.

On May 11, Eustice will present his plan to Community Board 1, which gave him a warm reception at a transportation committee meeting last month. But there were some concerns about how pedestrians would manage during the race.

Eustice said that residents would have about two minutes to leave the perimeter of the race after the pack of cyclists circle by. Four exit points scattered along the race will likely ease any congestion, allowing the race to “breathe.”

“People would only be delayed by a minute,” said Eustice. “That way the community is not trapped and that’s a key component. No one has to feel unduly inconvenienced.”

The issue will come up at Community Board 1’s next full board meeting at the Swinging 60’s Senior Citizens Center [211 Ainslie St. at Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 389-0009] on May 11 at 6:30 pm. For info, visit www.cb1brooklyn.org.

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