Fabian Cancellara capped off his illustrious cycling career in the Japan Cup criterium, delivering his teammate Fumiyuki Beppu to the victory in Utsunomiya.
Cancellara had not raced since his gold medal performance in the Olympic Games time trial in August, but joined his Trek-Segafredo teammates one last time.
Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) and Manuele Mori of Lampre-Merida rounded out the podium on Saturday. The race is the prelude to tomorrow's Japan Cup Road Race.
"It was a fantastic team job," Beppu said. "And the spectators were unbelievable; it was like being on the Champs-Élysées. They were all cheering for Trek-Segafredo.
"The teamwork was perfect. Gregory Rast made the situation for the chase of the break, and Fabian, in his last race, and Mollema were great. And then Jasper (Stuyven) really did a perfect lead out. I had pressure to make the sprint, but they all made it so I had no stress. And I did it! We did a real professional job here."
In sharp contrast to the empty streets at the Abu Dhabi Tour, the roadsides were packed with fans for the criterium and were thrilled to see their home grown champion win again.
"Today was a great experience as usual in Japan," general manager Luca Guercilena said. "Lots of fun and activation from all the people. We are really proud to win for the second year in a row, especially a victory with Fumy. Here in Japan, that is a big value for us, and we are really happy with this performance."