The Tour de France in the land of the rising sun: Creation of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France

On 26th October 2013, Amaury Sport Organisation and the City of Saitama in Japan will launch the first Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France.

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.

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.

It will be the very first criterium of this type that will convey the spirit and magic of Le Tour though its values and its heroes.

“Enhancing the standing of the Tour de France throughout the world is a major objective for A.S.O. and 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,” said Mr Jean-Etienne Amaury, President of Amaury Sport Organisation.

“The creation of this new event follows on from a range of successive events in the past, including the World Championships in 1990, the creation of the “Nuit du Tour” by JSports and the appearance of Beppu and Arashiro in the race peloton, two riders who perfectly reflect Japan’s growing attachment to cycling,” added Mr Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France.

A new setting, a new country but the same values, such is the spirit in which the race will take place in the heart of Saitama. It will be both a major popular event as well as a promotional tool that only the Tour de France knows how to produce, thanks to the TV footage which is beamed around the world.

“Cycling brings various good values to society. My wish is that the event will bring smiles to everyone in Saitama and Japan,” said Mr Hayato Shimizu, Mayor of Saitama.

A.S.O. will manage the event that will take place on a 2.7-km circuit winding through the city centre, on which a pack of 60 riders (30 Japanese and 30 international competitors) will battle it out, promising an intense and spectacular race.

Throughout the day, a village combining fun and educational activities based on the theme of cycling will be open to the spectators.

Significant resources will be devoted to promoting cycling in the city, as a sustainable means of urban transport.
On 26th October, the Tour de France will settle down in Saitama, Japan.