The 1996 Tour of Japan, recognised by UCI, held its 5th stage on 23th at Japan Cycle Sports Center in Shuzenji-city, Shizuoka pref. It was seventeen laps of a eight kms circuit, giving total of 136km. The race was being controlled by three riders with three laps to go.
They are two French riders and a Japanese rider, Daisuke Imanaka (JPCA), and he got the victory on the last climb just before the finish. In this Tour, it was the first time a Japanese rider has won a stage. Jean-Philippe Duracka kept his top in Individual GC and his French team also kept the top in Team GC.
He has changed expectation toward him into his power. Turning pro two years ago, he is now riding in Italy (team Polti). Since he has come back home two days before, he noted "I lost of my control to my legs in early stages by jet lag." However, the situation was different today. At two laps after start, he once jumped off the pack "to see other's shape."
Noticing that the French riders did not seem to react, he broke away. With the race coming down to himself and the two French riders he decided after watching them closely, that one of them would attack on the last climb.
It was fifteen laps of a 10.3km circuit, giving total of 154.5km. Nathan O'Neill, attacked five laps to go, broke clear the peleton to win the race. He also got overall mountain award. Jean-Philippe Duracka, finished in the pack, and kept his placing as top in GC. The French team kept its placing at the top in the team GC.
Plaisance said "Today's race was difficult. I wanted to hold the lead through to the end of the tour to gain our overall victory convincingly."
Directeur sportif Plaisance had kept captain rider's name secret till the end. However it was clear, judging by the way the team and Duracka rode. At 4th stage, Duracka "waited" for a teammate planning to attack and they has ridden together to help each other in the wind until the finish.
In the 5th stage, which almost decided the final GC, Plaisance told them to let Duracka attack with one rider to assist and for the rest to control the pack. It is said that the selection of the team was done by the directeur one by one.
"I didn't need all fast riders. Instead I wanted riders who are able to play his role in the team." 34 years old Duracka is the "main rider and the coordinator." He also ranks as the top French amateur. It was consideration of Plaisance who makes much of harmony that he has not revealed the captain's name.
Duracka said happily that "my team assisted me to ride into good positions. The team effort allowed me to win the tour." One of Japanese directeurs sportives said "The French team raced together, all six riders working for the goal. Though it is natural, they show us a good model." Although Plaisance did not say too much, the French team showed the way to race as a team in road racing.