Winner of the final stage of last year’s Tour of Japan, Aisan Racing Team’s Taiji Nishitani picked up where he left off, putting his long-range sprinting ability to good use with a strong ITT performance in today’s opening stage of the 2013 Tour of Japan in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture.
Images: Sonoko Tanaka
Last year’s winner, Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo – De Rosa), registered a solid, but not spectacular, performance, checking in 15″ behind Nishitani. KSPO’s Joon yong Seo, a stage-winner in last year’s Tour of Thailand, finished runner-up, with Nishitani’s teammate of eight years, Kazuhiro Mori, in third. The combined performance of Aisan’s riders was enough to elevate the Nagoya-based team – managed by Fumiyuki Beppu’s older brother, Takumi – into first place amongst the team rankings.
Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team)
King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): N/A
Best Young Rider Classification (White Jersey): Joon yong Seo (KSPO)
Teams General Classification: Aisan Racing Team
INSIGHT FROM THE PELOTON
“Nippo broke the peloton in the third stage last year so, until then, it’s important for GC contenders, like me and Adiq (Othman), not to lose time. Adiq’s condition is relatively good, I think. Of course, we will do our best at the Mt Fuji stage this year. Since last year, the Shuzenji stage [CiQ: Stage 5, held at the Continental Cycling Center in Shizuoka Prefecture] is 50 kilometres longer than in the past. It’s a big difference, because it’s a very hard stage. Even after 90 kilometres, the peloton is almost broken. Every year, 10-20 riders don’t start the next day. It’s a very aggressive day. It’s difficult to beat the Nippo guys and some of the pure climbers up Mt Fuji, but we have a chance in Shuzenji to get the time back.
I’ve looked at several riders in Lampre and Vini Fantini, but not many of them are climbers; most of them are classics riders, sprinters or rouleurs. Looking at their recent results and from my experience, Nippo may again take control of this race, especially at Mt Fuji. According to my feeling at Trentino and last year’s experience, (Julián) Arredondo is stronger than the average ProTour climbers. You could see this at Langkawi; he beat every ProTour rider, so even this year we have to watch out for Nippo. From Drapac, Darren Lapthorne looks strong, I think. But only Nippo has three cards to play: Arredondo, Baliani and Compagnaro.”
Tomorrow is a transfer day, with the race convoy heading to Mino, Gifu Prefecture, approximately 250km to the northeast of Sakai. At time of writing, fair weather is expected, with temperatures forecast to be between 17-29°C.
STAGE 1 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE