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Yasugawa, Japan, November 27, 2005


Pontoni finishes tour in style

By David Alvarez

The pack rides
Photo ©: Mari Yano
Click for larger image

Warm and sunny weather greeted the 49 elite starters for Japan's largest cyclocross race on the banks of the Yasu river. This would be the only chance for domestic racers to take UCI points this season. To add to the level of difficulty, the race counted as a national team selection race, and was the final race of Daniele Pontoni's three-race tour of Japan.

Pontoni took some time on the previous day to help design the course, the result being a much more technical course than previous years; this would prove to be troublesome for many riders throughout the day.

Lining up on the start line were several Japanese cycling standouts, including national cross champion Keiichi Tsujiura, former national cross champs Masahiko Mifune and Masanori Kosaka, current national MTB champion Raita Suzuji, Shimano-Memory Corp rider Yoshiyuki Abe, and more.

Daniele Pontoni and Keiichi Tsujiura
Photo ©: Mari Yano
Click for larger image

Bridgestone-Anchor rider Tsujiura jumped from the start, and a small group of the top riders made their way to the front after the first technical section, a rocky descent along the riverbank. But before long, Pontoni was off the front. Able to gain time on each technical section, he rarely looked to be working hard and comfortably soloed to victory. Tsujiura came in not too far behind in second place.

The most exciting race of the day came in the battle for third. After a terrible start, Subaru-Miyata pro Mifune slowly made his way through the field, finally taking the last podium spot in the last 500 metres. Next week's race will see a new venue along the shores of Lake Biwa, and is the last warm-up before the national championships the following weekend in Osaka.



For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mari Yano


Elite men
1 Daniele Pontoni (Ita) Selle Italia                      1.01.28
2 Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn) Bridgeston Anchor                   0.36
3 Masahiko Mifune (Jpn) Miyata Subaru                        1.10
4 Masanori Kosaka (Jpn) Suwako                               1.20
5 Shingo Shiraishi (Jpn) Shimano Drinking                    2.18
6 Atsushi Maruyama (Jpn) Suwako                              2.50
7 Raita Suzuki (Jpn) Bridgeston Anchor                       3.58
8 Mitsuru Ohara (Jpn) Asan                                   5.00
9 Tsuneo Muto (Jpn) Target                                   5.43
10 Katsunori Irie (Jpn) Shimano Drinking                     5.44
11 Munehiro Sugimura (Jpn) Nihon Island Azumino              5.46
12 Yoshiyuki Abe (Jpn) Shimano-Memory Corp                   6.16
13 Shinji Kubo (Jpn) Foobar Network                          6.34
14 Akio Soga (Jpn) Goodwill                                  8.16


1 Ikumi Tajika (Jpn) God Hill                               38.46
2 Eiko Toyooka (Jpn) bicinoko.com                            0.08
3 Makiyo Sakai (Jpn) Testach Racing                          0.34
4 Keiko Ikeda (Jpn) Gachapin                                 1.58
5 Keiko Karimata (Jpn) Gachapin                              3.29
6 Ryoko Mori (Jpn) Kyoto Univ                                5.22
7 Yuka Mitsui (Jpn) Kobe                                     3.27