Whether it’s circuit races in industrial zones, or sterile city-to-city stages, some of the racing in this season’s AsiaTour has lacked a certain optical energy. This has been most evident when a parcours is the product of staid political influence. So it’s great when a stage race breaks from the mold with a little bit of crazy.
It all starts so innocently…
Stunning location. Check!
Brutal climb. Check!
Race-deciding stage. Check!
Tour of Japan’s fourth stage has it all. Beginning at 826 metres above sea level, and ending 11.4 kilometres later at 1,963 metres elevation (an average 9.97% gradient, with pinches of 22%), tomorrow’s stage is the hill climb with a difference. Because it’s a mass start. Brilliant! Or, in the words of Bridgestone Anchor’s Ryota Nishizono, “At Mount Fuji, team strength will have almost no meaning”.
Even so, several teams got out for a stage recon during the rest day today. As always, the fearless Sonoko Tanaka was there to capture the fear in the rider’s eyes. Bring your rollers boys, you’re gonna need a warm up!
Chris Butler (Champion System); going into stage four at 14th position on GC, 5’15” behind Julián Arredondo Moreno (Team Nippo)
The irrepressible Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu Cycling Team) – this man lives for pain. He’s loving it!
Eating, or about to throw up?
Hey, who’s that walking?! It’s a good thing your face is obscured. Shame!
Even after such a short stage, this sign will still be met with huge relief
ROUTE AND PROFILE
Google Earth image of the route Tour of Japan’s fourth stage will take
I love it, awesome stage. Would be great to see a high quality video feed….