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14th Japan Cup - 1.1

Japan, October 23, 2005

2004 Results    Results    Past winners

Cunego finally wins Japan Cup

"Il bel finale per il giovane campione"

By Miwako Sasaki

Race winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita)
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
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Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) won the 14th Japan Cup, beating Spaniard Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears - Caisse d'epargne) in a two man sprint. Cunego was second last year in this race, and today was a revenge race for him.

56 riders started the 11 lap course on a cloudy and cool morning. It was very small peloton for the international category race, but many spectators crowded beside the course, maybe more than last year.

Just after the starting pistol roared, some Japanese riders jumped clear from the peloton and made a six man breakaway. The members were Yoshimasa Hirose and Masahiro Shinagawa (both Shimano-Memory Corp), Takeaki Ayabe (Miyata-Subaru), Yoshinori Iino (Sumita Ravanello-Pearl Izumi), Ken Hashikawa (Kinan-CCD) and the 'Asian Jacky Durand' Koji Fukushima (Team Bridgestone Anchor). They soon gained two minutes over the peloton in the first two laps.

The bunch was controlled by the four ProTeams: Illes Balears-Caisse d'epargne, Quick Step-Innergetic, Saunier Duval-Prodir and Lampre-Caffita, until the final part of the race. They didn't want to do anything dangerous because there was a bad thunderstorm last night and the course was still wet. Italian Cristian Moreni (Quick Step - Innergetic) was afraid of the conditions of the course before the start. So the Japanese breakaway was a very welcome situation for the favourites.

Yoshimasa Hirose (Shimano-Memory Corp)
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
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Six Japanese riders still kept the 2'30 gap to the peloton, but the breakaway was finished at three laps to go, as the peloton accelerated. The front group was still about 30 riders at the start of the second last lap, and the race broke open at the top of the mountain. All the favourites were in the front group: defending champion Patrik Sinkewitz and Moreni (Quick Step - Innergetic), Cunego and Marzano (Lampre-Caffita), Mancebo and Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears-Caisse d'epargne), Manuele Mori and Jose Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval-Prodir). On the top of the mountain on the final lap, Mancebo attacked from the first group and only Cunego followed him. Mancebo passed the top alone, but only 5 seconds ahead of Cunego, who caught the Spaniard on the descent. Both of them attacked over and over again on the small hills before the finish, but Cunego was better than Mancebo at the end. The Italian crossed the finish line solo, celebrating in front of the many Japanese tifosi.

"This year was very difficult for me because of the illness, but I'm very happy that I could win this race at the end of the season, and this one is my fourth victory this year...that's not bad?" said Cunego after the race. And the 24 year-old champion gave some beautiful words to Japanese fans too: "Cycling is a great school of life!"

Martinelli's choice

The Hong Kong national team
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
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Cunego struggled to find good condition before the Japan Cup, but Giuseppe Martinelli, who is Cunego's mentor and the directeur sportif of Lampre-Caffita, let Cunego continue his season. And the director brought Cunego to Japan Cup because the race was fit for him. The director's choice was right. Cunego could finish this season with a smile: All's well that ends well.

Cunego will become a solo team leader of Lampre-Caffita next year because Gilberto Simoni decided to leave the team to join Saunier-Duval. "It will be a big responsibility for me. But the team is very good and I have great teammates," said Cunego.

Cunego called soon to his home in Verona after the race, and shared this happiness with his fiancee Margherita and his little princess Ludovica, who is 3 months old now.

The first experience for Spanish Illes Balears

It was the first time for the whole Illes Balears team to come to the Japan Cup, and although at the end of the season, they had a good race today: Mancebo was second and Pablo Lastras was 4th. Alfonso Galilea, the director of Illes Balears said before the race, "We don't have any experience of this race, and also we have many problems. The end of season after the big race like the Vuelta, a different country, a different race, a jet lag of 7 hours...we couldn't sleep well in two days. But we will try to do the best and one of our riders will get top 10."

Popular Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears - Caisse d'espagne)
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
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And his team did so. Galilea was also surprised about the many Japanese fans. "A lot of fans were around Mancebo after the race and everyone called his name! I didn't think he is so popular in Japan."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Miwako Sasaki

Results - 151.3 km

1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                    4.05.56
2 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears                       0.03
3 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quickstep                             0.27
4 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears                    0.43
5 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir                       
6 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quickstep                            0.44
7 Yasutaka Tashiro (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor                   0.51
8 Morris Possoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                         1.51
9 Shinri Suzuki (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor                          
10 Po Wong Kam (HKg) Team Hong Kong                           1.52
11 Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                           
12 Makoto Iijima (Jpn) Sumitra Ravanello Pearl Izumi              
13 Julio Garcia (Spa) Madeinox-A.R. Canelas                       
14 Kazuyuki Manabe (Jpn) Team Nippo                           1.53
15 Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn) Team Nippo                                
16 San Wu Kin (HKg) Team Hong Kong                                
17 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre - Caffita    1.54
18 Hidenori Nodera (Jpn) Shimano - Memory Corp                    
19 Kazuhiro Mori (Jpn) Team Japan                             1.55
20 Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Shimano - Memory Corp                   2.01
21 Tomoya Kano (Jpn) Shimano - Memory Corp                    2.18
22 Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Illes Balears                   2.21
23 Taiji Nishitani (Jpn) Team Japan                           2.33
24 Yusuke Shimizu (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor                    3.09
25 Angel Gomez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                   3.42
26 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir                  
27 Ken Hashikawa (Jpn) Kinan CCD                              6.37
28 Koji Fukushima (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor                    6.38
29 Mashahiro Shinagawa (Jpn) Shimano - Memory Corp                
30 Yoshimasa Hirose (Jpn) Shimano - Memory Corp                   
31 Mikel Pradera Rodriguez (Spa) Illes Balears                6.39
32 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                   6.41
33 Hing Chan Chun (HKg) Team Hong Kong                        9.20
34 Akira Kakinuma (Jpn) Myata Subaru                          9.26
35 Kojiro Nakagawa (Jpn) Myata Subaru                             
36 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quickstep                                 
37 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Qucikstep                           9.27
38 Ching Wong Ngai (HKg) Team Hong Kong                           
39 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quickstep                             9.28
40 Takumi Beppu (Jpn) Team Japan                                  
41 Masahiko Mifune (Jpn) Myata Subaru                             
42 Ruben Lobato Elvira (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir          12.14

Hors délai
Ikki Yoneyama (Jpn) Sumitra Ravanello Pearl Izumi
Tsun Lam Kai (HKg) Team Hong Kong
Miyataka Shimizu (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor
Tetsuya Ishida (Jpn) Team Nippo
Yoshinori Iino (Jpn) Sumitra Ravanello Pearl Izumi

Koki Shinbo (Jpn) Team Japan
Arkaitz Duran Aroca (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir
Tatsuro Fukushi (Jpn) Sumitra Ravanello Pearl Izumi
Kengo Kowatari (Jpn) Kinan CCD
Takeaki Ayabe (Jpn) Myata Subaru
Takuya Nishimura (Jpn) Myata Subaru
Yoshihisa Kimura (Jpn) Sumitra Ravanello Pearl Izumi
Akira Sumoto (Jpn) Kinan CCD
Takeshi Hashimoto (Jpn) Team Nippo

Kyoshi Miura (Jpn) Kinan CCD

Past winners

2004 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick Step-Davitamon
2003 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre
2002 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre-Daikin      
2001 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
2000 Massimo Codol (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
1999 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Bianchi
1998 Fabien De Waele (Bel) Lotto-Mobistar
1997 Yoshiyuki Abe (Jap) Mapei-GB
1996 Mauro Gianetti (Swi) Team Polti
1995 Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) Carrera Jeans
1994 Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) Carrera Jeans
1993 Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) Carrera Jeans
1992 Hendrik Redant (Bel) Lotto

Past winners by Mario Stiehl,