Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France : Act II

news22.03.2014After the race

© Presse Sports

Invited to participate in French Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron's trip to Japan, Jean-Etienne Amaury, Chairman of A.S.O., and Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, took advantage to announce, in the company of Mr Hayato Shimizu, Mayor of Saitama, the second edition of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France. The main riders on the Tour de France will be expected to light up the city's avenues and enthuse the crowds next autumn.

A festival of cycling with the finest field of competitors imaginable was the spectacle unprecedented in Asia held last October in Saitama, near to Tokyo. The Yellow Jersey of the 100th Tour de France, Chris Froome, accompanied by the Green Jersey, Peter Sagan, as well as the race's leading stage winner, Marcel Kittel, and even the discipline's world champion, Rui Costa, made a prestigious date in their diaries to the delight of the Japanese spectators. For this high-speed merry-go-round, racing around a 2.7-km urban circuit winding through the heart of Saitama, the success with the public was resounding, both in numbers and attitude: more than 200,000 enthusiastic and fervent spectators lined the entire route for the first edition. Bowled over by both their meeting with sumo wrestlers, in the build-up to the Criterium, and by the welcome of these unfamiliar aficionados, at their season's end the elite riders were won over by this exotic event and the perspectives it offered, with a good hundred countries broadcasting images of the race. In response to the mutual enthusiasm they observed, A.S.O. and the Saitama city authorities decided to organise the 2nd edition of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France to conclude the 2014 cycling year.

Within the context of cycling's globalisation, the durability of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France also goes hand in hand with Japan's build-up to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. In this forward-looking vein, the French Sports Minister, Valérie Fourneyron, made a point of praising the announcement of the race's second edition as part of her trip to Japan. “A.S.O. has started a wonderful adventure in Japan,” was her comment several weeks ago on unveiling the outline of France's international sporting policy. “The Tour de France proudly plays a double role of ambassador in this project, both for the influence of cycling as a sport and for French know-how,” pointed out Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France.

Hayato Shimizu, Mayor of Saitama
We are both delighted and proud to announce that the City of Saitama will again play host to the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, following the resounding success of the first edition in 2013. Welcoming a small part of such a monumental event as the Tour de France is a means of strengthening the links of friendship that exist between France and Japan”.

Jean-Etienne Amaury, Chairman of Amaury Sport Organisation
The welcome provided by Saitama in 2013 convinced us of the Japanese public's growing interest for cycling. We see this success as a new accomplishment in our drive to spread the values and image of the Tour de France”.

Valérie Fourneyron, French Sports Minister
The 1st edition of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France in 2013 was a massive and superb popular success, but also a celebration of the friendship that unites France and Japan via sport. The Tour de France is a showcase for our country in Japan, as it is in many countries. It contributes to the influence of high-level French know-how in the domain of sport, in promoting our love for sport and in highlighting our heritage. All this expertise, philosophy and spirit of sharing are used by the Tour de France to make the Saitama Criterium a success. It is therefore with great pride and honour that I am present today to witness the agreement to stage the 2nd edition. I wish it just as much success as it met with in 2013 and that this race continues to embody the success of a constructive and balanced partnership between France and Japan in sport which promises to bring future developments”.

The race in pictures


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