ASO announces new Saitama Criterium will be held in October, event linked to Tour de France
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Monday, March 25, 2013

ASO announces new Saitama Criterium will be held in October, event linked to Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 1:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
First edition will feature sixty international and national riders, including successful Tour competitors

Tour de FranceTwo and a half months after the Yomiuri Shimbun announced that ASO was working on plans to bring many top riders to Saitama City, north of Tokyo, for an exhibition race which would be connected to the Tour de France, the French company has confirmed the project today.

In January that newspaper said that would be run as an ‘All Stars’ exhibition race, which would have the Tour de France title attached to it despite taking place months after the event.

ASO has today announced that the first Saitama Criterium will take place in the city of the same name on October 26th 2013.

“As the Tour de France prepares to celebrate its one hundredth edition, its popularity and influence beyond the French borders have never been as high,” it said in the announcement. “Japan is not foreign to this phenomenon and its main TV channels have been broadcasting images of the Tour de France for the last thirty years.

“Two of its representatives, Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro, even featured in the final classification for the first time on the Tour de France in 2009.

“Saitama and A.S.O. have therefore decided to boost the ever-growing popularity of the Tour de France in Japan, by creating the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, an event which will see some of the world’s leading riders, having won stages and worn the classification leaders’ jerseys on recent editions of the Tour de France, battle it out.”

The race will take place eleven days after the final stage of the Tour of Beijing, a UCI/Global Cycling Promotion-organised race that also involves ASO. It is unclear if riders in the former will remain in Asia for the latter, or if they will be flown in from Europe and elsewhere.

The race will be run off as a criterium, taking place on a 2.7 kilometre circuit in the city centre. Thirty international competitors and thirty Japanese riders will take part and, according to today’s announcement, ‘significant resources’ are set to be devoted to promoting cycling in the city as a sustainable means of urban transport.

The criterium is billed by ASO as being a major popular event and also a promotional tool ‘that only the Tour de France knows how to produce, thanks to the TV footage which is beamed around the world.’

Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has said that the race follows other successful events in the past, including the 1990 world road race championships and the ‘Nuit du Tour’ run by JSports, as well as Beppu and Arashiro’s presence in the peloton.

ASO president Jean-Etienne Amaury explained that the project would also boost the Tour itself. “Enhancing the standing of the Tour de France throughout the world is a major objective for A.S.O,” he said. “We are proud to observe the enthusiasm already generated by the creation of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, so far from the homeland of the world’s biggest cycling event.”

The race continues the push for increased globalization in the sport, and should help interest in cycling in Japan and Asia.

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