By Miwako Sasaki
The Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation (SOSFO), which organises the Tour de Korea-Japan, wants the race to grow into a Tour de Asia. While the first Tour de Korea-Japan will start next Saturday in Japan, organisers hope the new Asian stage race, based on the Tour of Korea, will travel more Asian countries in future.
As a first step towards an Asian tour event, SOSFO has organised the race with the Japanese Cycling Federation's help for the first time in history. For this year, the first two stages of the 2.2 UCI Asia Tour will be held in Japan before the race heads across sea to Korea. Nine stages will be held in Korea, where the event will conclude on July 4.
The prologue and the first stage will be held at Yamaga city in Kumamoto, where the south part of Japan nears the Korean peninsula. The 1.8 kilometre prologue will pass the ancient tomb of Goryozuka, which was created in the sixth century. The first stage will start in front of Kikuchi Palace, which was created in the seventh century.
132 riders from 22 teams will start the first Tour de Korea-Japan. From Japan, three top teams - Skil-Shimano, Meitan Honpo-GDR and Aisan Racing Team - will participate in this friendship race. Also eight UCI continental teams, Seoul Cycling, Giant Asian Racing Team, Trek-Marco Polo Cycling Team, Letua Cycling Team, Ulan, Polygon Sweet Nice Team, Savings & Loans Cycling Team and Team Ista, two national teams from Hong-Kong China and Uzbekistan, and JAJO Sports from Swiss, Nordland-Hambourg Palmarès from Denmark will start the race.