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Arashiro and Beppu ready to blaze the trail


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Mercurial Kisso Kawamuro may have been the first Japanese rider on the roads of the Tour de France (failing to even finish the first stage in both 1926 and 1927), but Yukiya Arashiro and Fumiyuki Beppu became the first ones to finish the Tour in 2009. This year round, they have been the first to throw their hats into the ring for the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, the last race of the season for them. They are proud to welcome the world's elite to their country and burning with the ambition to shine in front of their home crowds. The October 26 event packs an emotional punch for Japanese champion Yukiya Arashiro...

Yukiya Arashiro, the maiden edition of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France is shaping up to be a big moment for Japanese cycling enthusiasts...
Cycling is becoming more and more popular in Japan. This race is a unique opportunity to see the great champions from up close. I hope we'll attract a prestigious field so that the crowds enjoy the show. I'm thinking mainly of children, who'll certainly flock to the circuit and keep images of the event. It's moments like these that make you want to hop onto a bicycle. Until now, the Japanese have had to settle for watching the Tour riders on J-Sports, but now they'll get to see them in the flesh.
With the Japanese champion's jersey on your back, your emotions will be running wild...
Of course, because I rarely get to ride in Japan. Actually, I haven't ridden there with the jersey on, this year. Furthermore, I get loads of support from Japanese fans, and I know cycling has made leaps and bounds since Fumi Beppu and I finished the Tour. There'll be high expectations for us, that's for sure.
The format of the Criterium is not unlike that of the track events so loved by the Japanese. Does it suit you too?
I've never really raced on the track, as I only really started cycling when I moved to France. However, I like the concept and I'm quite a decent sprinter, so I hope to win. Then again, I don't know how I can pull that off if big guns like Kittel are in the mix! I'll have to come up with something.

The Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, the first of its type, will take place on 26th October 2013, on a 2.7 km race circuit in the heart of Saitama City, 20 km North from Tokyo. Besides several animations for the general public, the event will feature 3 cycling races, including 2 points races inspired by the Japanese keirin format as well as a main 54 km criterium race, reflecting the Tour de France classifications.

57 professional cyclists, including 25 Japanese riders and 32 international stars from the Tour de France, will participate in the different race formats. The detailed list of participants will be announced during a press conference in Tokyo on 25th September 2013.

The news in pictures


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Jersey wearers after the stage 9

Classifications after the stage 9

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