Le Tour de France Saiatama Criterium: D-5 Info
October 30 th 2018 - 11:28
Welsh rider Geraint Thomas heads the entry list of riders preparing for the trip to Japan for edition six of the Tour de France Saitama Critérium, five years after his first participation. As is the case every year, the riders will compete in front of a large crowd, in which there will be a very special observer in the person of Alberto Contador. A complete TV package is scheduled for this end-of-season race, with footage to be aired in 190 countries.
GERAINT THOMAS, THE RETURN. Last week, Geraint Thomas was already thinking about the Tour de France when he learned about the race route for the 2019 edition. But in the hallways of the Paris convention centre, he also remembered his only participation in the Critérium de Saitama, when he was present for the first-ever edition in 2013, as a team mate to the eventual winner, Chris Froome. “I recall there was an earthquake over there! It was actually quite funny because it was very minor, and I have some great memories of this Critérium. I am happy to be going back, especially because this time I will be wearing the Yellow Jersey and it will be totally different. For sure, we are coming during a time of the year when I would like to take a break from cycling, but I am rather glad to go and finish my season over there, it is a fine symbol.”
CONTADOR… AS AN AMBASSADOR IN JAPAN. His name won’t be found on the entry list, but there will be a third Tour de France champion in Saitama this weekend as Alberto Contador will be joining Geraint Thomas and Vincenzo Nibali for the trip to Japan. Retired from the sport since the end of the 2017 Vuelta a España, where he finished 5th, the Spaniard will accompany his former peloton colleagues in a country where he never raced during his 15-year professional career, until last year in the Japan Cup. This year, “El Pistolero’’ will offer his attacking character to the service of cycling, while we begin to take a serious interest in the climbers with an Olympic title that will be up for grabs in two years on a very demanding race route around Mount Fuji.
A SPRINT BONANZA. The Tour de France riders will be expected to stand out in the day’s main event on a road course, with 19 laps of a 3-kilometre urban circuit through the heart of Saitama. Prior to that, a team time-trial as well as a series of sprints will be run on the same course. 15 riders will take part in this virile competition that will be divided into four qualifying rounds and a final, with the Japanese riders taking on the Tour de France stars. Most eyes will be peered on Marcel Kittel, who has 14 Tour de France stage wins to his credit, as well as World Champion Alejandro Valverde and the past two European Champions, Alexander Kristoff and Matteo Trentin.
THE CRITÉRIUM ON SCREENS OF ALL SIZES. The TV coverage of the Critérium de Saitama will be of the highest order with footage beamed to 190 countries through 35 broadcasters, including 10 that will offer live start to finish coverage of the race. Among the new arrivals is the American platform GCN, which will provide the action to all of North and South America (except for Columbia) and Holland’s Ziggo Sport that completes the list of European networks, while three Japanese channels will provide extensive coverage all throughout the event: J-Sports, J-Com, TV Tokyo and TV Saitama.