Top riders confirmed as taking part in Saitama criterium in nine days’ time
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Top riders confirmed as taking part in Saitama criterium in nine days’ time

by VeloNation Press at 1:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Costa, Froome, Kittel, Sagan and Riblon amongst those due to ride

Rui CostaThe season is rapidly nearing an end but world champion Rui Costa (Movistar), Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky), quadruple Tour stage winner Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano), double Tour green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Alpe d’Huez victor Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale) are amongst the riders scheduled to line out in the inaugural Saitama Criterium on October 26th, nine days from now.

The event was announced earlier this year as a type of Tour de France ‘All Stars’ race, a collaboration between Tour de France organisers ASO and the city of Saitama in Japan.

Speaking in March, ASO explained what it would entail. “Saitama and A.S.O. have 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.”

Race director Jean-François Pescheux elaborated on that today, giving a bigger insight into what will be involved.

“The idea was to set up an urban circuit right in the heart of Saitama, just like when the Tour peloton rides a few laps of the final circuit in the stage to the Champs-Elysées. Of course, the environment is different, but the 2.7 km course also includes very wide avenues which can give rise to similar race situations,” he said.

The criterium will be broken down into three events, which Pescheux states can be seen as stages. The first two of those are points races, with points being awarded every second lap. This should encourage aggressive riding and provide plenty of visual action for the spectators.

The third will be a road race held on twenty laps of a circuit, totalling 54 kilometres. It will include intermediate sprints to determine the points classification plus a short climb which will determine the rider who takes the KOM award.

In addition to that, there will be young rider and team classifications, plus a combativity prize.

Pescheux acknowledged that the Japanese interest in track racing syncs well with the notion of points races, enabling what he called a blending of the cycling cultures.

“What is for sure is that we will see short and nervous stages with multiple rewards on offer, which will promote movement and non-stop attacks,” he predicted. “The Tour riders will be here for their last race of the season and a rare appearance in Asia, will want to pull off a performance worthy of their status and their jerseys.

“I am quite sure that they will face a fierce challenge from the Japanese riders we invited.”

Froome had previously cancelled his participation in Il Lombardia and Tour of Beijing due to back pain but, according to ASO, he will be present in the Saitama event.

Kittel has said that he is looking forward to the race, not least because it could suit him very well. “I am keen and impatient to go to Japan. I’ve never been there, although I understand that a lot of spectators will line the route and that there will be a great atmosphere because the people there do not see a peloton of this level very often,” he said.

“I’ve had a fantastic season so far, and finishing it with a trip like this is incredible. All the more so because I like the design of the race. It’s perfect for sprinters, so I hope to give a good account of myself and win it.”

Saitama is twenty kilometres north of Tokyo. In all 56 riders will take part, of which 32 are international riders and 24 are Japanese.

Provisional lineup:

Sky Procycling: Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh
Cannondale Pro Cycling: Peter Sagan, Ivan Basso, Nariyuki Masuda, Juraj Sagan
Team Argos-Shimano: Simon Geschke, Marcel Kittel, Albert Timmer, Tom Veelers
Orica GreenEdge: Simon Gerrans, Fumi Beppu, Christian Meier, Simon Clarke
AG2R La Mondiale: John Gadret, Christophe Riblon, Romain Bardet, Blel Kadri Arthur Vichot, Jérémy Roy, Jussi Veikkanen, Alexandre Geniez
TeamEuropcar: Yukiya Arashiro, Vincent Jérôme, Yohann Gene, Jérôme Cousin
Movistar Team: Rui Costa (Por), Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Andrey Amador (Crc), Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa).

Japanese team: Miyataka Shimizu, Sho Hatsuyama, Yasuharu Nakajima, Taiji Nishitan, Kazuhiro Mori, Yusuke Hatanaka, Hayato Yoshida, Yukihiro Doi, Yoshiaki Shimada, Ryota Nishizono, Shinichi Fukushima, Kohei Uchima, Kazushige Kuboki, Souta IKebe, Hikaru Kosaka, Yoshimitsu Tsuji, Eiya Hashimoto, Naoki Tsujimoto, Masato Kanai, Kota Hirahara, Shinichi Ota, YoshiHiro Inoue, Yusuke Sasaki, Masanari Komuro


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