Le Tour de France Saitama Criterieum : D-2 Infos

November 2 nd 2018 - 10:18

  • The world champion Alejandro Valverde, the Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and many other pedalling stars have arrived in Japan for the 6th edition of the Tour de France Saitama Criterium and a bit of tourism.
  • Saturday, on the eve of the race, they will already participate in a rich schedule: initiation to falconry, Japanese percussions, baseball with the local stars of the sport…
  • Japanese cyclists, led by Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro, also gear up for the race. For the first time, three amateur riders will line up in the time-trial after winning the qualification series.


For the sixth year, Saitama tunes to the Tour de France atmosphere and welcomes the biggest stars of cycling. The 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) is back in Japan five years after his first participation in the Criterium. The Welsh star even made the trip one day ahead of most of his companions, to enjoy the Japanese beauties. But his partner Wout Poels proved to be even more of an enthusiast for the Land of the rising Sun - he arrived on October 26th and will stay until November 6th, two days after the race.

In addition to Thomas, two former winners of the Tour are in Saitama: the Italian champ Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and the freshly retired Spanish star Alberto Contador, new ambassador of the event. The World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who also wore the Yellow Jersey on the roads of the Tour de France, arrived in the evening and will stay until November 8th with his Movistar teammates.


The 2018 edition of the Tour de France Saitama Criterium will once again be the opportunity for the cycling stars to discover new facets of the Japanese culture and share their passion with the local fans. Among other activities organised on Saturday morning, Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alepcin) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) will be initiated into the art of taiko, a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments, and Mitchelton-Scott riders (Matteo Trentin, Roger Kluge, Carlos Verona and Luka Mezgec) will try falconry.

As baseball is one of the main sports in Japan, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will develop their skills with masters of the discipline: the star coach Tomoki Hoshino and two players of the local women professional team Astraia Saitama, Yu Kato and Yukari Isozaki. The Japanese fans will also enjoy animations with the riders, a teams presentation and a presentation of the 2019 Tour de France route led by Alberto Contador, double winner of the race.


In addition to the six World Tour teams participating in the 2018 Tour de France Saitama Criterium, 12 Japanese teams will participate in the different events on Sunday (time-trial, sprint events and mass start). The local riders will be led by Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro, who both held National champion titles and participated in the Tour de France. “It’s always a delight for me to attend this event”, Beppu said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to bring some of the magic of the Tour de France in Japan, and I love riding at home.” A women team, junior riders and para-athletes will also race in the time-trial, as well as three amateur riders who claimed this opportunity by winning qualifying series, a novelty in 2018.

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