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15th Tour de Okinawa - 1.5
Japan, November 9, 2003
Okazaki triumphs in downpour
By T. Nakazawa & B. Leide
Despite a tropical downpour that turned the parcours into a skidpan, Japan's Kazuya Okazaki (Nippon Hondo) took first place and some valuable UCI points in Okinawa, the final pro road race of the 2003 season.
The atrocious conditions also marred the amateur and professional races, vastly increasing the DNF list, which included your reporters. Canada's Amy Moore won the women's race from Lara Kroepsch (USA National Team).
Reports by Colette Swift, Team Ireland
Men: Okazaki On Top, McCann seventh
In torrential conditions, Hibernian Team Ireland's David McCann, Rory Wiley, Paul Griffin and Eugene Moriarty worked very well together to gain some valuable UCI points in Okinawa, Japan - the final professional road race of the 2003 season. A field of 176 riders from 18 teams, including USA and Chinese national squads started the testing 200km elite men's race at 6.45am on Sunday, November 9.
The treacherous conditions saw many crashes throughout the race. On the opening flat 50km loop, a select 25 man group had formed including McCann, Griffin and Wyley, along with five out of six riders from the American team. At the 73km mark on the first 350 metre climb, this lead group stayed largely together while the bunch trailed almost four minutes back. At the halfway point, Wyley shot ahead of the leading break with two Japanese riders and built a solid lead that they were to maintain over the second major climb at the 127km mark. By this point, 40 riders had been lost to crashes in the slippy conditions. An attack by America's Saul Raisin saw him cross to, and then pass Wyley's group, while the break behind blew apart. Griffin lost contact following a puncture and McCann went over the top in a six-man chasing group.
A strong chase from the bunch saw a six-man group including the Japanese and US champions, Fukushima and McCormack, along with former Canadian champion (and team-mate of Ciaran Power) Mark Walters catch the tail end of the break but, with the exception of McCormack, they were never to see the front of the race. With 30km to go, McCann and Wiley's groups had merged and been joined by McCormack, leaving 10 riders behind the lone leader, Raisin.
After 185km, the final long climb was raced in a torrential downpour. The leading group split to pieces with a final four riders going on to contest the finale. Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn) won by 12 seconds from a three-man chase group. Dave McCann finished in a respectable seventh place, just over two mins down on the leaders. Rory Wiley rode a spectacular debut ride for Ireland finishing in 13th place, only four mins down on the leaders. Remaining riders continued to come in for the next 30 minutes. Griffin and Moriarty made it inside the top 30 finishers. Such strong riding so late in the racing season would surely guarantee the Irish men's squad a repeat invitation for 2004.
Women: Moore takes win, Swift fourth
Canada's Amy Moore won the women's race from Lara Kroepsch (USA National Team). Amy opened up a gap of three minutes after attacking from the gun and stayed away throughout the race. The larger oriental teams surprised visiting countries by choosing not to chase or try to get across to the Canadian. Instead, efforts to bridge the gap were left to the US, Irish and remaining Canadian rider.
Wet slippy conditions made it difficult to break clear on the hills as there was very little traction and any efforts that were made chased down. Colette Swift (Irl) and Jutras Manon (Can) broke clear on the final climb with 3km to go, but both riders were caught at the 300m mark by the remaining field of 13 riders. A high paced and tight sprint finish concluded the 50km race with Lara Kroepsch (USA) and Tomoko Nakayman (Jpn) coming through at the last moment to take second and third place respectively, just ahead of Ireland's Colette Swift.
Images by Colette Swift
Professionals 1 Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn) Team Nippon Hodo 4.54.45 2 Guillem Munos (Spa) Team Orbea Etxe-Ondo 0.12 3 Mark McCormack (USA) USA National Team 4 Kazuyuki Manabe (Jpn) Miyata Subaru Racing Team 5 Yoshiyuki Abe (Jpn) Shimano Racing Team 1.09 6 Kam Po Wong (HKg) Hong Kong-China Cycling Team 7 David McCann (Irl) Ireland National Team 2.11 8 Daisuke Hioki (Jpn) CCD Kinan Bike System 2.25 9 Yasutaka Tashiro (Jpn) Team Bridgestone Anchor 2.36 10 Shinichi Fukushima (Jpn) Team Bridgestone Anchor 2.38 Women, 50km 1 Amy Moore (Can) 1.22.06 2 Lara Kroepsch (USA) USA National Team 3.04 3 Tomoko Nakayama (Jpn) Sumita Ravanello Pearl Izumi 4 Collette Swift (Irl) Team Ireland 5 Huang Ho-Hsun (Tpe) Chinese Taipei Amateurs, 200km 1 Shingo Shiraishi (Jpn) 5.24.52 2 Tadashi Takayama (Jpn) 1.00 3 Tomohisa Goukon (Jpn) 2.36
2002 Paul Redenbach (Aus) Giant Asia Racing Team 2001 Makoto Iijima (Jpn) Sumita Ravanello Peal Izumi 2000 Kam-Po Wong (Hkg) Hong Kong 1999 Mark Walters (Can) Canada National Team 1998 Kam Po Wong (HKg) 1997 Tomokaze Fujino (Jpn) 1996 Ken Hashikawa (Jpn) 1995 Kam Po Wong (HKg) 1994 Tomokazu Fujino (Jpn) 1993 Takahiro Yamada (Jpn) 1992 Gianluca Tarocco (Ita) 1991 Takahiro Yamada (Jpn) 1990 Kyoushi Miura (Jpn) 1989 Kazuo Oishi (Jpn) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com