Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the second edition of the Saitama Criterium by Tour de France, beating Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in a small group finish.
The closing stages of the criterium featured the obligatory attack from Vincenzo Nibali, who wore the yellow jersey of Tour de France winner. When he was pegged back in the finishing straight, the top sprinters from this year’s Grande Boucle came to the fore, with Kittel overhauling Kristoff within sight of the line to claim the win.
In the second running of the Japanese event, the stars of July again attracted enormous crowds to the roadside in the centre of Saitama for an event billed by ASO as the 22nd stage of the Tour de France.
The Saitama event marries the Japanese keirin tradition to the Tour de France and thus before the main criterium, the field was broken into groups for two separate points races. The first race saw Chris Froome (Sky) among those sprinting for points but it was won by Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
"It's nice to finish the season like that, because it's my last race in a Saxo-Tinkoff jersey. It's also a little bit like winning a stage of the Tour: I get the same music on the podium,” Roche said.
The spoils in the second points race fell to Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr), who saw off the challenges of Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) and Nibali.
Not surprisingly, the concluding event, the 60km criterium, saw Tour polka dot jersey Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nibali among the attackers, as well as local favourites Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Fumiyuku Beppu (Trek Factory Racing).
Arashiro and Beppu led into the final lap, but where swept up by the main contenders. Nibali put in a crowd-pleasing effort in the finale before Kittel claimed the sprint.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano||1:24:39|
|2||Peter Sagan (Slo) Cannondale|
|3||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team|
|4||Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|5||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Tour De France Japan Team|
|6||Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale|
|7||Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:00:02|
|8||Koen de Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano||0:00:05|
|9||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team|
|10||Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Tour De France Japan Team||0:00:10|