2016 Asian Cycling Championships preview

First held in 1963, the Asian Cycling Championships return to Japan for the fifth time in the event s history.

Pity the organiser of the Asian Cycling Championships, which this year is the Japan Cycling Federation. The event is a melee of up to 41 nations: all of widely varying levels of athleticism, experience, racing nouse and equipment.

Unlike a standard UCI Asia Tour race, there are far fewer barriers to entry for aspiring cyclists. Aside from the obvious being of the appropriate age and gender, having visas, ability to cover travel and equipment costs all competitors need to do is:

  1. belong to a National Cycling Federation affiliated to the Asian Cycling Confederation
  2. wear the jersey of the national team

Of course it should be simple, for that is part of the event s egalitarian nature. Besides, the combination of seasoned pros racing against little-known aspirants is arguably just as interesting a spectacle (not used in a derogatory sense) as any other race.

The Asian Cycling Confederation is currently headquartered in Seoul, though we could find out this month whether that is about to change. The ACC s (Confederation, not Championships, despite having the same acronym) annual congress is scheduled to take place in Tokyo on the Monday following the Championships.

PARTICIPANTS
According to the 2016 Asian Cycling Championships website, 24 of 41 nations (click here for a larger version of the map above) are due to participate at the road races. Track cycling is also on the calendar, but we won t cover those events here.

It s interesting to look at which nations have the greatest numbers on the UCI Asia Tour versus their rank at the end of the 2015 Asia Tour season. The nation with the most riders is not always the most powerful and vice versa. Note also, only four nations had riders in WorldTeams last year.

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In a fluke of timing, the 2016 Rio Olympic quotas for the road cycling events were also announced yesterday, which means we can include those nations with Olympic starts in the chart below.

LOCATION AND SCHEDULE
All road cycling events will be held on Oshima Island: from Tokyo, a two hour high-speed ferry ride, or eight hours by passenger ship. The location all but guarantees quiet roads and ease of organisation, but only once participants actually get there. One slip-up in a tight travel schedule for any athlete or team could result in a lengthy and stressful wait at the ferry terminal in Tokyo as they wait for the next vessel.

Here s an overview of the schedule for the U23 and Elite road cycling events which start tomorrow (all local times):

COURSE MAPS AND PROFILES Not a great deal of elevation change features on the ITT course, but off-shore gusts could present a challenge if wind conditions prove to be volatile. It s a course for TT specialists, pure and simple.

On the other hand, the road race parcours could yield some surprises courtesy of a 191m (elevation) climb on the 11.0km circuit. The Elite Men will repeat this circuit 14 times, meaning a total elevation gain in excess of 3 000 metres by the time they eye the start/finish line for the final time.

The last three kilometres are also interesting. Assuming there is a bunch finish, contenders will be sprinting uphill for the last 800m once they turn for the final time and race past the local police station.

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HOW TO FOLLOW
Live updates will be made on the official Twitter account and we re still looking for a live TV feed. It will be posted here if one (or more) materialises.

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