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The Saitama Criterium offers a star-studded line-up and a few innovations

Photo: Unipublic




16.10.2015 @ 09:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The 2015 edition of the Tour de France Saitama Critérium will offer a few innovations, with a program that will now feature an individual time-trial. In addition to the riders from the Tour de France and Japan’s best, the time-trial will be open to para-cycling riders and female cyclists…



Cycling is enjoyed by everyone in Japan. An extra opportunity to compete has been offered to female riders, who will have the privilege to take part in the individual time-trial, with seven of the top national level riders. The uninitiated, for example, will discover that Japan has its own Pauline Ferrand-Prévot in Ero Yonamine, who is both the Japanese female time-trial and mountain bike cross-country champion. But the local all-rounder will face stiff competition from long-term rival Hiromi Kaneko, who won the 2013 Japan Cup and the 2014 Tour of Okinawa. However, the Saitama public will be throwing their collective support behind local rider and high school student Yumena Hosoya, who is a rising star on the international level in the discipline.



Last year, the cyclists racing in the Tour de France Saitama Critérium had the rare opportunity to compete in both an indoor and outdoor event, with a 180 meter run through the Super Arena incorporated into the route. This time, the concept has been brought back with passages that will be run in the opposite direction. The grandstands will accommodate more spectators and create a real proximity to the riders. In an arena that has played host to Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and U2 in the past, the likes of Froome, Purito and the others are in for plenty of thrills…



Among the innovations of the Tour de France Saitama Critérium, the time-trial has created an opportunity for para-cyclists to take part in the event. Before the riders of the Tour take center stage on the 3.1 km circuit in the city center, three world champions in different categories will be in action. Germany’s Hans Peter Durst, who won the Tricycle-MT2 world title last spring will be riding, while there will be a reunion of sorts in the MC3 category between Ireland’s Eoghan Clifford, who won the gold medal on the Apeldoorn track (Netherlands) and Japan’s Masaki Fujita, winner of the road race at the World Championships at Notwill (Switzerland).



A seventh European team of riders has just completed the field for the third edition of the Tour de France Saitama Critérium. The Etixx-Quick Step formation, winner of three stages on this year’s Tour de France, will head to Japan with Maxime Bouet as their team leader, accompanied by three very young world cycling hopefuls. Julien Vermote will represent the Belgian contingent with the very promising Yves Lampaert, who finished 7th on Paris-Roubaix and 6th on Paris-Tours this year. And Japanese fans will have another distinctive jersey to follow in the peloton with the participation of Petr Vakoc, who became the Czech Republic national champion this past June.



Team Sky: Froome (GB) ; Team Giant-Alpecin: Degenkolb, Geschke (Ger) ; Team Katusha: Rodriguez (Spa) ; AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Vuillermoz(Fra); Team Europcar: Arashiro (Jap) ; Trek Factory Racing: Beppu (Jap),Popovych (Ukr) ; Etixx Quick Step : Bouet (Fra)



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