Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France: The Cycling Intercontinental

This coming 26 October will see an exceptional day of racing take place in Saitama, with a selection of international peloton riding alongside the best of Japanese cycling talent. All in the spirit of the encounter and a passion for cycling...

As a guest of Jean-Etienne Amaury, the President of the Amaury Sport Organisation, the Mayor of Saitama, Hayato Shimizu, visited the Tour de France at Mont Saint-Michel yesterday and took the opportunity to announce the details of this inaugural event in the presence of the race director Jean-François Pescheux and Tour ambassador, Bernard Hinault.
 
A new date on the calendar, a showcase of urban cycling, a chance for the champions currently battling it out in the Tour de France to go head to head once more. This is what the spectators and viewers of the Saitama Critérium by Le Tour de France can expect to see and more. Japan has been paying close attention to cycling for over thirty years, particularly thanks to images of the Tour being broadcast by J-Sports, and by doing so also contributes to the increasingly international dimension of cycling. The hosting of the world championships in 1990 clearly demonstrated Japan's interest and involvement in cycling. This coming 26 October will place them at the centre of the cycling universe, with an array of champions lining up to take part in a completely new venture on a day dedicated to the Tour de France and the interest shown in the Tour by one of Asia's leading nations. “The Tour de France's success has extended far beyond France's borders and enhancing its standing throughout the world is a major objective for A.S.O. today,” said Jean-Etienne Amaury.
 
Consequently, the race peloton symbolically will be made up of approximately 30 Japanese riders and 30 international riders who will be individually selected for a criterium, with the sequencing intended to add to the dynamism of the initiative. Well-accustomed to the pace of track events, the Japanese riders will have a chance to rediscover this energy on the 2.7km circuit in the heart of Saitama, which neighbours Tokyo. Three races will feature on the day's agenda: a points race (30 competitors), with points awarded for each of the 8 crossings of the finish line; an elimination race (30 competitors) with 3 riders being eliminated after each lap; then a full peloton race (60 competitors) which, after 20 laps, will culminate in a high intensity sprint. “The official awards ceremony will take place at dusk in exactly the same way as the 100th Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées,” added Jean-François Pescheux.
 
In the spirit of the Tour visiting the land of the rising sun, the Mayor of Saitama hopes to “put on a highly colourful event for the people of Japan, open to all, and which brings people together,” and “staging a Tour village will, among other things, be a genuine meeting place for France and Japan.” And without a doubt, Yukiya Arashiro will be looking to use the occasion to do justice to his Japanese champion's jersey, just as he did when he took the lead on the road into Marseille only a few days ago. But this time, the Team Europcar rider has the home advantage…