This weekend saw some of the peloton flying to Japan to enjoy the atmosphere and the racing at two of the biggest events on the country’s road race calendar.
Trek Factory Racing had a fantastic weekend in Utsunomiya with Fumiyuki Beppu delighting the home crowds by out-sprinting Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Steele Von Hoff (NFTO riding for Criterium Special Team) at the Japan Cup Criterium on Saturday, and Bauke Mollema taking the win at the Japan Cup the following day.
This is my first time in Japan, and I have to say that the fans are just unbelievable, just crazy for cycling! – Bauke Mollema Trek Factory Racing
Cycle sport in all its forms is wildly popular in Japan and the fans are like nowhere else in the world. The organisers report 43,000 thronged the 1.55km route through city streets of Utsunomiya for the crit race, with 82,000 estimated for Sunday – something I’m sure any organiser would love to be able to say. >cough< Abu Dhabi >cough<
Judging by social media, riders seem to genuinely enjoy the racing and the interaction with fans.
Bernie Eisel’s fans made sure his last appearance for Team Sky was a real celebration.
As did the Nathan Haas fan club for his last argyle-clad outing:
And of course there was animé to be had.
It’s a real shame these races are not televised to a wider audience as they would make such a fabulous celebration to end the season. Luckily we can share in the excitement as one of our favourite photographers, Wei Yuet, was there to catch the action and the atmosphere in his own inimitable style. Take ten minutes and lose yourself in these extraordinary images from an extraordinary race. It’s really great to have him back capturing the action again, we have missed him.
As we have this man… did I mention Spartacus was back in action? Welcome back, guys!
Featured image: Ride Argyle #tifosi © Wei Yuet