Japan boasts two UCI ranked races in its international cycling calendar. The multi-day Tour of Japan, now in its 21st year and the Japan Cup, a single day race, which takes place at the end of the season in the Utsunomiya Forest Park, on the course of the 1990 World Road Race Championships.
Tour of Japan dates: 20th – 27th May 2018
Tour of Japan stages: 8
Official website: http://www.toj.co.jp/2018/
Twitter: @TourofJapan #TOJ2018
The Tour of Japan has a UCI classification of 2.1 (the same at the Tour of Yorkshire) so expect to see teams with a World Tour license take part as well as Pro-Continental and Continental classifications.
As with previous editions of the race, the route travels from west to east eventually finishing with a crowd-pleasing race on streets of Tokyo.
JLT Condor has previously competed in the race in 2010 and 2014. But have not always been able to take part in the the race due to a clash with the UK based Tour Series.
“Last year and in 2016 we ran a split programme. Putting riders into two categories, stage race or one day. It really worked.
We have requested to attend the race in Japan but were turned down on previous occasions. Off the back of extremely strong performances in stage races in 2017, we’ve shown the organisation we will not just ride but our riders can animate the racing. I’m delighted to be going back to Japan.”
In 2010 JLT Condor attended the race under its former name, Rapha Condor Sharp, in the rider roster was the then National Champion, Kristian House, who duly delivered a brilliant solo victory on stage 6.
Herety sent a team of young riders to the race in 2014. His aim was to inspire and help future talent grow. Nineteen year-old Hugh Carthy, riding in the colours of Rapha Condor JLT, finished second on stages 4 and 5, earning himself the prestigious King of the Mountains and Best Young Rider Jersey.
Stage 1 – Sakai – Individual Time Trial 2.6km
The race opens with a 2.6km individual time trial around the pan flat Daisen Park.
A similar length and style to the opening stage of the 2018 Heral Sun Tour where Ian Bibby placed highly. He is tipped to do well on the opening day in Japan.
Stage 6 – Mount Fuji – 32.9km
Short and steep, stage six is an ascent of Mount Fuji. Riders will climb through 20 hairpins bends at an average gradient of 10% on the way to the summit finish at 2000m.
Climbers Ed Laverack and Ed Bradbury are likely to shine on this difficult stage.
Stage 8 – Tokyo – 112.7km
Pan flat racing on tight city circuit is perfect for the JLT Condor, as one of the world’s best criterium teams. The final stage of the race will suit the experienced and technical riders, expect to see Ollie Wood, Tom Stewart and Ian Bibby in the mix.
Unlike most UCI stage races, each course starts and finishes in the same location rather than travel point-to-point. Each stage features laps of a large course in cities throughout Japan. Riders will complete 6-8 laps of courses that will be 16km-20km in length.
Sunday 20th May – Stage 1, Sakai (Osaka) – 2.6km Time Trial
Monday 21st May – Stage 2, Kyoto – 105km
Tuesday 22nd May – Stage 3, Inabe – 127km
Wednesday 23rd May – Stage 4, Mino – 139.4km
Thursday 24th May – Stage 5, Minami-Shinshu – 123km
Friday 25th May – Stage 6, Mount Fuji – 32.9km
Saturday 26th May – Stage 7, Izu – 120.8km
Sunday 27th May – Stage 8, Tokyo – 112.7km
Stage 1 begins at 13.35 (JST) / 05.35 (BST)
Stage 2-7 begins at 09.15 (JST) / 01.15 (BST)
Stage 8 begins at 11.00 (JST) / 03.00 (BST)
TV highlights and LIVE stream is available through SportsBull.
Ian Bibby leads the team along with Tom Stewart who returns to racing after illness. Welsh climber Ed Laverack showed he could climb well in the Tour de Yorkshire, he is the only rider from the squad who has taken part in previous editions of the Tour of Japan.