An expectant crowd assembled in Utsunomiya to welcome their cycling heroes at the team presentation of the 23rd Japan Cup. Japanese WorldTour riders Yukio Arashiro (Europcar) and Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek Factory Racing) were on hand, along with a whole host of other WorldTour stars and local talent.
Unlike many of the riders present, Alessandro Petacchi wasn’t at the Tour of Beijing last week but he has made the trip over to Japan to head up the special criterium team. Petacchi is still without a team for the 2015 season. Second place finisher in Beijing, Dan Martin will be supporting his teammate Steel von Hoff in Saturday's criterium before chasing the win in the main event on Sunday.
Last year’s winner Michael Rogers will not be competing this year, nor will runner-up Jack Bauer. However third placed Damiano Cunego will close out his Lampre-Merida career at the race, before he departs for pastures new at Nippo-Vini Fantini.
The Japan Cup criterium will take place on Saturday 19 October, followed by the Japan Cup itself on Sunday.