Beppu wants to be first Japanese rider to reach Paris
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Beppu wants to be first Japanese rider to reach Paris

by Agence France-Presse at 9:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu is aiming to become the first cyclist from the land of the rising sun to reach Paris and finish the race which starts here on Saturday.

The 26-year-old former national road race champion, who turned professional with Discovery Channel in 2005, will be competing for Skil-Shimano when the first stage begins with a time trial around the tiny Principality.

And, along with Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Yukiya Arashiro, Beppu wants to be the first rider from Japan to reach Paris and finish all 21 stages.

"The last time a Japanese rider was on the Tour was 13 years ago, so this is a really big thing for me and it's very exciting," said Beppu, also a former national Under-23 champion.

"It's such a big race."

Beppu and Arashiro are hoping to improve on the progress of Kisso Kawamuro, the first rider from Japan to try his luck back in 1926 and 1927, but failing both times in his quest to reach Paris.

Daisuke Imanaka was the last Japanese rider to take part in the Tour when he was a member of the Polti team in 1996, but also never saw the French capital and its finish line.

Now Beppu and Arashiro are both hoping to be the first from their country to reach the Arc de Triomphe on July 26.

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