A reported 120,000 people were clumped and dotted along the seven kilometer circuit hosting today s final Tour of Japan stage in Hibiya district, Tokyo. A bunch sprint, won by Aisan Racing Team s Taiji Nishitani, was the perfect final for the gathered crowd, following a week of unpredictable and thrilling racing.
A week of occasionally brutal racing had already hemorrhaged one third of the peloton that began Tour of Japan last Sunday, so 62 riders remained to entertain. It wasn t to be an especially suspenseful affair, as the 47.1kph average speed permitted even the strongest cyclists few opportunities to open more than a few seconds gap.
With the general classification more or less guaranteed to remain with Fortunato Baliani or teammate Juli n Arrendondo Moreno, in the unlikely event that Baliani should catastrophically collapse a fight for the blue points jersey provided the race-within-a-race. Three intermediate sprints (5 points each) and a final sprint (25 points) offered a treasure of points, meaning incumbent Mariusz Wiesiak (Matrix Powertag) was probably the most anxious man in the peloton.
How the intermediate sprints fell: 1) Maximiliano Richeze (Team Nippo), Taiji Nishitani, Mariusz Wiesiak 2) Maximiliano Richeze, Taiji Nishitani, Mariusz Wiesiak
3) Wong Kam Po (Hong Kong National Team), Taiji Nishitani, Mariusz Wiesiak
In between the points chase Utsunomiya Blitzen provided most of the stage s brief highlights, with Masaru Fukuhara and Makoto Nakamura leaping out into space with abandon. Theatrics were finally shut down by a determined peloton with two laps remaining, and it was Aisan s Hiroshima-born Nishitani ahead of Maximiliano Richeze and Maksym Averin (Amore & Vita) to snare the stage prize. Nishitani s win bodes well for Aisan Racing Team going into the Tour de Kumano next week.
2012 Tour of Japan points jersey winner, Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team)
2012 Tour of Japan overall winner Fortunato Baliani (green jersey); KOM overall winner Juli n Arredondo Moreno (red jersey); Team Nippo also won the overall teams classification.
Kohei Uchima understandably pleased with his team s performance; Nishitani s final-stage points grab the only spoiler that prevented Team Nippo s clean sweep of all classifications.
Fortunato Baliani and Juli n Arredondo Baliani. What s not to smile about?
A huge thank you to Anchor Bridgestone s Ryota Nishizono for providing Cycling iQ with insight from the bunch this week.
FINAL LEADERBOARD Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo) Points Classification (Blue jersey): Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team) King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Juli n Arredondo Moreno (Team Nippo)
Teams General Classification: Team Nippo
STAGE 6 RESULTS
FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION