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EquipeASADA have confirmed their intention to become the first Japanese team to race the Tour de France. The Continental squad is currently without sponsors for next year, but plans to return by 2011 and race the Tour soon after.
"If we successfully become a Pro Continental team in 2011 and have persuasive results then we can realistically aim to participate in the Tour in 2013," team press officer Kenichi Yamazaki told Cyclingnews. "Hopefully, we will gather the best Japanese riders and some experienced European riders, similar to Café de Colombia and 7-Eleven in the 1980s."
This season Fumiyuki Beppu (Skil-Shimano) and Yukiya Arashiro (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) became the first Japanese cyclists to complete the Tour de France. Both are ex-ASADA riders.
But a Japanese team has never raced in the Tour de France, the sport's biggest event.
"Arashiro and Beppu's participation in the Tour de France expanded the popularity of cycling enormously in Japan , where baseball & sumo wrestling reign at the moment. This enthusiasm will help us find solid sponsors," said Yamazaki.
EquipeASADA wants to take a step up from the third division and race as a second division, or Professional Continental, team in 2011. It will use 2010 to search for sponsors and scout the Japanese races for young, talented riders.
This season the team won two stages, the points, mountains and overall classification at the Tour de Hokkaido. It also took the top three spots at the Kumamoto one-day race.
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