The Tour de France criteriums continue this weekend, with many of the key names of the French Grand Tour heading to Japan’s Saitama Criterium on Sunday November 5, straight from last weekend’s Prudential Singapore Criterium.
The likes of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) will deliver another display, along with Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome who are lining up with the race’s Legends Team. Froome, in fact, was also at the first edition of the event, crossing the line first at the end of season celebratory criterium in 2013 after he in July won the first of his four Tour de France titles.
Egan Bernal, who wasn’t in Singapore, will also be joining the festivities on the outskirts of Tokyo in Japan. The 2019 Tour de France winner will be lining up alongside his Ineos Grenadiers teammates Joshua Tarling and Brandon Rivera.
Former professional rider, now CPA President, Adam Hansen will also roll in to take a place in the Legends Team. Guillaume Martin will also be lining up with Cofidis after having taken third in the 1.Pro ranked Japan Cup Cycle Road Race last month.
The criterium is set to play out on a 3.5km circuit on city streets around the Tokyo suburb of Saitama, also cutting through a crowd filled arena. There are sharp turns throughout, but also a long finishing straight for the final sprint to unfold on after 17 laps of racing. There is also a time trial before the criterium, run on largely the same course.
Jasper Philipsen was first over the line at the event in 2022, when the criterium returned after two years absence through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Belgian who claimed the green jersey at the Tour de France also claimed the Singapore Prudential Criterium last weekend, ahead of Cavendish and Pogačar, though the rider and his Alpecin-Deceuninck team will not be in Japan this year. The Lidl-Trek squad led by Ciccone, who raced in the Legends Team in Singapore, is subbing in at Saitama instead.
The events in Singapore and Tokyo, more of an exhibition than a race, take some of the fanfare of the Tour de France beyond Europe to give the large crowds a glimpse of their favourite riders. “You see all the kids here with stars in their eyes,” said Froome.
Photo opportunities on rickshaws, selfies and autographs were a big part of the event in Singapore and that trend will continue through to Tokyo, where the seven teams filled with international riders…