2013 Tour of Japan stage 2: Mino

ProTeam Lampre-Merida meticulously closed down a dangerous two-man break in the final kilometres of today s 160.7km second stage the racest longest but their final lead-out was not enough to overcome the strength of Korean sprinter Sung Baek Park, who secured enough bonus seconds to leap into the overall race lead.

Images: Sonoko Tanaka

28-year old Park, a former talented track-cyclist-turned-rouleur, who last year won his second Tour de Korea title, simply outpaced Lampre s Max Richeze last year a member of Nippo, the 2012 Tour of Japan winning team in a sprint finish that even many informed fans might have concluded was Lampre s for the taking. Had Richeze won the stage, it would have been a case of d j vu considering this year s parcours is unchanged from 2012.

The theme of the stage was, overall, of a very Korean nature, with Champion System s Chan Jae Jang and KSPO s Ji Min Jung holding court for the majority of the stage as a two-man breakaway which, in the process of their considerable effort, swallowed the available KOM and intermediate sprints. For his efforts, Jang claimed the first KOM jersey by a handsome margin, with Jung a young and talented rider who this year placed second behing Blanco s Tom Leezer in stage six of the hors cat gorie Tour de Langkawi in the KOM classification overall.

Tomorrow s third stage heads into properly hilly territory, which may later prove to be the moment the race was won. Check out the stage highlights, then read guest writer and Champion System pro, Ryota Nishizono s, account below.

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LEADERBOARD Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Sung Baek Park (KSPO) Points Classification (Blue jersey): Sung Baek Park (KSPO) King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Chan Jae Jang (Champion System Pro Cycling) Best Young Rider Classification (White Jersey): Andrea Francesco Palini (Lampre-Merida)

Teams General Classification: Aisan Racing Team


Ryota Nishizono (Champion System) | 26th in today s stage; 14th on GC at 0 14?

Considering every aspect of today s race, we thought the finale would be sprinting. However, one climb, which is located 2km from the finish, and a technical section after the climb makes this course difficult. The beginning part was intense and many riders, especially locals, tried to get in the break but until the climb nobody was successful. My teammate, Chan Jae (Jang) bravely attacked on the climb and got away with another rider (Ji Min Jung, KSPO) who is also from Korea, so it was easy for them to cooperate. Chan Jae took all the mountain points and his break companion took sprint points. In the peloton, I could spend calm time and catch up with Japanese friends since I have not met them since transferring to Champion System this year.

In the middle part, Chan Jae got a 10 minute lead, but the sprinters teams reduced the gap little by little. Within the final two laps, they caught Chan Jae. The last part was harsh. Everybody tried to go. We stuck together and defended our position. At the beginning of the climb, I was in the 6th or 7th position. Soon after getting into the climb, Arredondo (Team Nippo De Rosa) attacked strongly and only four guys remained; Arredondo, two Vini Fantini guys, and me. One Vini Fantini guy gave up his chase and I could not fill the gap. At the top, the gap was about a few seconds. I could not catch them. So I fell back to the peloton, passed through the technical section and sprinted not to lose time.

After finishing, I noticed how hot it was (30 C); I drunk a lot of water. The mountain stages begin tomorrow.

Team Nippo De Rosa tucks into a good breakfast before the longest stage of the 2013 Tour of Japan.

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I love this image by Sonoko, especially the elderly lady with the side-turned baseball cap leaving the throng of spectators at the race start, and happily grasping her camera perhaps after getting the perfect shot of her favourite rider.

Vini Fantini and Drapac riders getting a little down-time before the starter s gun fires.

Ji Min Jung leading Chan Jae Jang further into the pair s escape.

No rush lads, Chan Jae has already taken all of the points

Champion System s Chan Jae Jang gets a wipe-down after a long, hot, stage.

Lampre s Andrea Francesco Palini might also be wondering how on earth he is going to get that lantern back to italy.

Psy, I mean Chan Jae Jang, and Sung Baek Park hanging out.



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