Schlagwort-Archive: Saitama Criterium

Arashiro, emperor of Saitama

October 27 th 2019 – 09:58
Kriterium (59,5 km)
1 61 ARASHIRO Yukiya 00″ TDF JPN
3 21 ROGLIC Primoz TJV SLO
4 44 MEZGEC Luka 05″ MTS SLO
5 84 UCHIMA Kohei 06″ UKO JPN
7 11 BARDET Romain ALM FRA
8 31 FUGLSANG Jakob 09″ AST DEN
9 14 NAESEN Oliver 11″ ALM BEL
10 3 CASTROVIEJO Jonathan 14″ INS ESP

Several days after the coronation of Emperor Naruhito, Yukiya Arashiro achieved a crowning moment in his career by winning in front of his home crowds on the Tour de France Saitama Criterium. The victory must have been even sweeter since in the run-up to the finish he resisted the duo made up of Yellow Jersey Egan Bernal and Vuelta Red Jersey winner Primoz Roglic.Beforehand in the main race, Matteo Trentin and Romain Bardet stood out, respectively claiming the green and polka dot jerseys, whilst the very lively Jakob Fuglsang was designated the most combative rider on this unofficial “22nd stage”.
Sprint aficionados enjoyed a rare formula in Saitama, with four qualification races to reach the final, contested on a rolling start, 800 metres from the finishing line. In the first heat, Oliver Naesen proved to be a bit too cocky when attacking 500 metres from the line and was caught and passed by Japan’s Saya Kuroeda. However, this technique worked for Michal Kwiatkowski, in a tough heat where he had to count on his power to avoid a direct confrontation at the line with Matteo Trentin. The third heat was completely different, in which the duel between Anthony Turgis and Kakeru Omae went the Frenchman’s way right at the very end: “I think my experience helped me to beat him,” explained the relieved Total-Direct Energie rider. The fourth ticket for the final was a two-way battle between a Japanese pair, since Jakob Fuglsang was evidently not confident in his finishing skills against the duo of Watanabe and Sawada, who crossed the line in that order. In the final, “Kwiato” again tried to shake off his competitors with an acceleration 500 metres from the line, but this time was lacking the strength to hold out against his two Japanese rivals. The duel was won by Saya Kuroeda, the only rider of the day to put in a faultless performance.

A career as an elite sprinter can open doors to all sorts of opportunities. Marcel Kittel, who this summer decided to definitively leave the saddle at the age of 31 years old, has not had to wait for long to slip into a new role. The German colossus, a regular at the Saitama Criterium since his initial participation in 2013 after winning his first four stages on the Tour de France, has been invited this year as an ambassador. This is a natural role for him in light of the affection he has for the end of season race that he won in 2014: “I’ve always had a wonderful welcome here and everybody has been able to see just how touched I have been each time by the acclaim of the crowds”. Kittel can also look back with particular fondness on the 14 stages he won on the Tour de France as he draws the final curtain on his time as a pro rider: “I have had a fine career. The highlights are obviously those victories on the Tour de France, as well as having had the opportunity to wear the Yellow Jersey. As a sprinter, I always dreamed about tasting victory on the Champs-Elysées”. Such memories are not holding Kittel back from looking forward, starting with his life as a young father which will commence in the forthcoming weeks: “It’s a new chapter that’s going to begin for me. I will be spending more time with my family and I will soon be starting studies in economics”.


Key points:
 The riders on the Tour de France Saitama Criterium enjoyed a day’s relaxation on the eve of the three races on the programme for the 7th edition. In different guises to their usual outfits, Michal Kwiatkowski was particularly convincing at karate, whilst Primoz Roglic revealed to the crowd at the Super Arena Saitama that he has a particularly skilful right foot.
 However, tomorrow it will be question of pedal power separating the winners from the rest of the pack, especially in the 59.5-km main race (with 17 laps of a 3.5-km circuit). Beforehand, the team-time trial and sprint competition will already have produced some of the day’s winners.

To open the programme, tomorrow morning on its 3.1-km route, the Criterium circuit will host a team race against the clock in which the riders will set off in groups of three. The fourth rider in each team will be taking part in a two-legged sprint competition: the winners of the four qualification races will take part in a four-rider final. For each of these races, the sprinters will set off behind a derny that will set the pace before peeling off 800 metres from the line, at which point the titanic battles will commence

After reconnoitring the route of the time-trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Michal Kwiatkowski showed a certain amount of skill in another discipline that has been additionally included in the Olympic programme for next year. The Polish rider was invited to take part in a karate lesson given by the leading pupils at the Saitama Sakae High School alongside Lilian Calmejane, Marcel Kittel, Matteo Trentin and Yukiya Arashiro, initially displaying the most determination and announcing that his kimono made him “feel stronger”. Indeed, thanks to his level of concentration, he put in the most credible performance, whilst the German sprinter and Calmejane found themselves hampered by a strange affliction of confusing their left and right hands! Although all the novices then successfully passed the exam involving breaking a plank (made of polystyrene, of course), Kwiato did not refrain from reminding those present that, once he had passed the initiation, he felt ready to honour the black belt knotted around his waist, with a bold “bring me a real wooden plank, please!”

Egan Bernal, Romain Bardet, Primoz Roglic and Jakob Fuglsang enjoyed a brand-new experience when they tried out a session of foot-darts, which involves hitting a giant target not with darts but with a football. In theory, the safe bet to win should have been Romain Bardet, the only man present to have played before, at the Vieille Brioude football club, or perhaps Egan Bernal, whose football version of the Yellow Jersey made it almost look like Angel di Maria had put on a Colombian football top by mistake. However, even though both of them got very close to the 50-point bullseye at the centre of the target which would have given them victory, Primoz Roglic combined talent with success to score a triple 19, demonstrating that he was right to have accepted this last minute invitation in Saitama. In the end, the winner of the Vuelta beat the winner of the Tour de France in the final classification, which may not necessarily be the case when they climb back onto their bikes.

Foto: Gerhard Plomitzer
The four-time winner of the Tour de France, who fell heavily on the most recent edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné will be back on his bike again tomorrow but only to take part in the team time trial, in the company of his Ineos team-mates Egan Bernal and Jonathan Castroviejo. With his physical rehabilitation work still underway, the British rider has preferred to miss out on the pack race, which he won in 2013 during the first edition of the Japanese race: “At the moment, I’m capable of getting on the bike and riding, but not racing within the pack. If I have to follow the changes in rhythm or kick after bends, I just won’t be able to keep the pace. I still need to build up my strength to reach that level”.

The Japanese delegation, which tomorrow will be competing alongside the 24 riders from the Tour de France teams in the main race, welcomed a special guest: Yukiya Arashiro, who has participated seven times in the Tour de France and has finished the 12 grand tours in total that he has started. At the age of 35 years old, the pioneer of Japanese cycling on the international scene should be able to hold his own against his country’s young emerging riders, including, for example, Shotaro Iribe from the Shimano Racing team, who recently beat him in a two man sprint for the title of Japanese champion. The Ukyo team, led by 2017 Japanese champion Yusuke Hatanaka and his counterpart in the young riders category, Kosuke Takeyama, will also be jerseys worth watching in the pack (in red and black). As for the time-trial, the Bridgestone Cycling team is expected to make it difficult for the elite squads, given that they have several track specialists capable of demonstrating their explosive power on the dynamic format on the programme

2019 Saitama Criterium: Bernal will be there

Key points:
 Egan Bernal, the winner of the 2019 Tour de France, will take starter’s orders on the 7th edition of the Saitama Criterium. So will his team-mate Chris Froome who will be making his return to competition on 27th October.

 The Colombian winner of this year’s Yellow and White Jerseys will again cross paths with the 2019 Polka Dot Jersey winner, Romain Bardet (Fra), as well as the 2018 World Champion Alejandro Valverde and several stage winners on the Tour de France.

Colombia enjoyed triumph in July thanks to Egan Bernal, the youngest winner of the Tour de France in cycling’s modern era, at the mere age of 22 years. After having savoured his success on the podium on the Champs-Elysées, then on his return back to the motherland in the streets of Zipaquira, his hometown, Egan Bernal, who also won the White Jersey, will be celebrating his victory at the Saitama Criterium where the Japanese spectators will flock in considerable numbers. Bernal will perhaps have an opportunity to shine on the 3.5-km circuit route through Saitama, having conquered the general classification in France without winning a single stage. To make up for this, the latest Tour de France winner could try to win “Stage 22”, although he will have to compete with his leader on the 2018 Tour de France, Chris Froome, who has programmed his return to cycling for the Japanese event, a race he has only missed once since his first success in 2013.

In Japan, the four times winner of the Grande Boucle will be rubbing shoulders with another regular on the podium on the Champs-Elysées and the roads of Saitama: Romain Bardet, this year’s Polka Dot jersey winner, will again be putting on the outfit that he dreamed of as a child to finish his season.

Other stage winners, such as Matteo Trentin, Daryl Impey, Omar Fraile and Lilian Calmejane have been invited to the race, as well as the most recent winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Critérium du Dauphiné, Jakob Fuglsang.

Main contenders (on 27/9):

AG2R La Mondiale: Romain Bardet, Mikael Chérel, Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra), Oliver Naesen (Bel);
Astana Pro Team: Jakob Fuglsang (Dan), Jan Hirt (Cze), Omar Fraile (Spa), Manuele Boaro (Ita);
Mitchelton-Scott: Matteo Trentin (Ita), Daryl Impey (Rsa), Luka Mezgec (Slo), Luke Durbridge (Aus);
Movistar Team: Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler, Imanol Erviti, Antonio Pedrero (Spa);
Team Ineos: Egan Bernal, Ivan Sosa (Col), Chris Froome (Gbr), Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa);
Total Direct Energie: Lilian Calmejane, Anthony Turgis, Jérôme Cousin (Fra), Rein Taaramäe (Est);
Tour de France Japan Team: Yukiya Arashiro (Jap)
Text: @ASO
Fotos: Gerhard Plomitzer –