by Koichiro Nakamura
ODAIBA, Tokyo, Japan—Cyclocross Tokyo is held in the mid-city part of Tokyo in a bay beach area located in Odaiba district of the city many tourists and visitors visit. In now its fifth year, Cyclocross Tokyo has grown the number of spectators each year with more than 15,000 people watching this exciting race for the 2016 edition. Additionally, the Elite races were livestreamed by J Sports TV.
Cyclocross Tokyo has a reputation as the "Sand-Cross" Tokyo. A solid third of the course is in the deep Mid-Tokyo-beach sand, making Cyclocross Tokyo a fairly unique event.
But not only is the sand a defining feature, but thus far the weather has proven different with each year. A couple of years ago the race was packed with snow, a rare phenomenon for the location. And last year wind and rain, which many would consider "normal" conditions for cyclocross greeted the racers. This year, warm, sunny conditions were on tap for the event. It had rained until noon, when it stopped, but the precipitation soaked the course changing conditions rapidly. After a season of freezing conditions, racers seemed to suffer in the sunny and warm temperatures.
For the Women's CL1 race, 2015 Japanese National Champion Kiyoka Sakaguchi (JP/Panasonic Ladies) rode consistently and won going clear by a minute, preventing Eri Yonamine (JP/Forza Yonex) from taking her first major win.
In the Elite Men's contest, American national Champion Jeremy Powers (US/Aspire Racing) took the holeshot with Yu Takenouchi (JP/Toyo) taking the lead shortly after. With the loose dirt and rain packed sand, a light and technical rider like Japanese National Champion Takenouchi was able to pick the right lines. Meanwhile, almost from the start, Powers seemed to realize that the conditions were maybe too hot.
"It was like a car with leaking oil. Lots of sweat and my muscles started to cramp. So I had to wait to the last 2 laps to make something happen," said Powers after the race. For his part, Takenouchi lead through the first half but sat up some due to recent injures. He had decided not to ride to his maximum while in the lead, something he later admitted was an error. "I should have pushed myself to the max," Takenouchi said.
Powers dealing with the heat and Takenouchi being cautious with lingering injuries let other riders come up. Belgian Ben Berden (BEL/ WCUP) was racing in third and closing in, but Hikaru Kosaka (JP/Utsunomiya Blitzen) caught Berden and the leaders to ride on the front.
"With patience and consistency, [I was] catching the riders in front, one by one," Koska said. While being in a position to win Kosaka lead until last 15 minutes, when Powers tore back to the head of the race.
"In Cyclocross, every lap until the last lap is the learning session," said Powers. "You learn the line, you save your energy, and you blast them on last lap." And that is exactly what Powers did at the last lap. Literary blasting the sand on the corners, flying across the flyover, and storming the straights, Powers rode with power until he took the win.
"Arigato, for letting me being here today," said Powers right after his win. "Hope you guys enjoyed the race and congratulations to all the riders here." This was Powers' second Cyclocross Tokyo victory.
See photos from Cyclocross Tokyo 2016 in the gallery below the brief results.
- Jeremy POWERS / Aspire Racing 59:02.630
- Hikaru KOSAKA / Utsunomiya Blitzen 59:03.716
- Yu TAKENOUCHI / TOYO 59:17.712
- Ben BERDEN / WCUP 59:28.445
- Garry MILLBURN / Trek Champion System 1:03:01.864
- Tim ALLEN / Feedback Sports 1:03:37.400
- Atsushi MARUYAMA / BOMA racing 1:04:04.772
- Motoshi KADOTA / Team GIANT 1:04:37.978
- Kohei MAEDA / Yowamushi Pedal Cyclocross Team 1:04:45.067
- Zach MCDONALD / Streamline Insurance Services
- Kiyoka SAKAGUCHI / Panasonic Ladies 39:07.487
- Eri YONAMINE / FORZA YONEX 40:07.596
- Sakiko MIYAUCHI / Club La.sista Offroad Team 40:23.042
- Waka TAKEDA / Liv 41:46.357
- Ayako TOYOOKA / Panasonic Ladies 44:54.925