By Miwako Sasaki
The 15th edition of the Japan Cup is a topic of conversation for Japanese cycling fans now. The organiser of the race has announced that it will charge people to watch it - an unprecedented move in Japan. The roadside from the start to the top of the hill, the most popular spectator viewing points on the 14.1 km circuit, will be closed and require a ticket.
This controversial new system has been introduced due the financial problems experienced by the race, the organiser explained. They said that the race has become bigger in recent years, and has many spectators on the roadside, so security is costing more. The race will also invite more national teams, although there are only four ProTour Teams - the same number of the last year.
The cost of the ticket is only thousand yen (€7), but most Japanese cycling fans are disappointed at this decision. The Japan Cup will be held on October 22, and the paying model could set a precedent for other races around the world.
ProTour team presence
The Italian Lampre-Fondital team will come to Japan again, although defending champion Damiano Cunego is absent as he has already finished this season. Marco Marzano, Ruggero Marzoli, Morris Possoni, Sylvester Szmyd, and Hong Kong rider Wu Kin San will come to the race, with Fabrizio Bontempi. Szmyd was fourth and Marzano was seventh in 2004.
Spanish teams Saunier Duval-Prodir and French Bouygues Telecom will start the race too. The Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears has cancelled their participation, on the other hand, American Discovery Channel finally decided to race last week after negotiations with the organiser, so Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu can show his national champion's jersey to his supporters.
Aisan Racing Team
Team Vang Cycling
China National Team
Thailand National Team
Hong Kong China National Team
Chinese Taipei National Team
Japan National Team