Johnson and Takenouchi in the sand.

Johnson and Takenouchi in the sand. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

Japan has started to become a hotbed for cyclocross action, hosting races that draw in riders like Tim Johnson, Ben Berden, Jeremy Powers and many of our other big names in US cyclocross, and sending a squad of racers to Worlds in the US. They also have the fan base: this weekend, 13,000 fans showed up to watch the second edition of CX Tokyo.

by Chandler DeLinks

TOKYO, JAPAN – Two days of cyclocross kicked off Saturday, February 9th at the second Annual CX Tokyo on the small, man-made island of Daiba’s Daiba Park. Race promoter, Ryoji Abeki built off last year’s successful event that drew close to 5,000 fans by adding a second day of racing for amateur categories, a larger expo area, and features such as a fly-over, and a second section of beach.

The added features and invitees such as Americans Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson, Australian rider Lewis Rattray, and three Kona Cyclocross riders, Spencer Paxon, Barry Wicks, and Eric Tonkin, drew close to 13,000 spectators from the Tokyo area to the sandy venue.

The racers are off. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

The racers are off. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

In the elite men’s event, Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) was able to escape on the last lap to take the win from the current Japanese Champion, Yuu Takenouchi (Koruba/Speranohamu), and Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld’s Tim Johnson for the win.

As he did the previous year, Takenouchi attacked from the gun with Powers, Johnson, Hikaru Kosaka (Utsunomiya-Blitzen Cyclocross Team), Paxson and Tonkin in tow, but after just a few laps mistakes in the race’s two long sections of sand took their toll and Takenouchi, Powers, and Johnson separated themselves front the rest of the field.

The CX Tokyo flyover. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

The CX Tokyo flyover. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

Mistakes in the deep sand were costly during the 13 lap event and Johnson was the first of the three leaders to pay for his mistakes when he crashed in one of the tight, sandy corners at the halfway point of the race, losing touch with Powers and Takenouchi for the last time.

Takenouchi drew hope from the crowd of an upset over the American favorite, Jeremy Powers, as he continued to ride cleanly through the technical course, maintaining a 10 to 15 second gap over the American until he started to tire with just three laps remaining. Takenouchi was forced to dismount and run sections of the sand he had previously ridden and Powers capitalized by closing the gap to the leader, connecting with only two laps to go.

Powers takes the win. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

Powers takes the win. © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

The two leaders rode wheel to wheel for the second-to-last lap, but Powers pounced as they took the bell and Takenouchi was unable to respond. Powers quickly opened up a five second gap, made no mistakes in the sand, and crossed the finish line seven seconds ahead of Takenouchi. Johnson rolled in for third place ahead of Paxson and Tonkin.

 

The crowds at the podium: 13,000 fans! © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

The crowds at the podium: 13,000 fans! © CX Tokyo/Kei Tsuji

If you missed it, make sure you order an archive copy of Issue 16 to see a feature on the Japanese cyclocross scene in Cyclocross Magazine!