Peter Sagan wins Saitama Criterium

World champion outsprints Sho Hatsuyama after break with Froome and Yates

Peter Sagan emerged as the winner of the fourth edition of the Saitama Criterium, outsprinting Japanese champion Sho Hatsuyama at the end of a fast race.

With the event run by Tour de France organisers ASO, Sagan was wearing the green jersey he won in July - rather than the world champion's rainbow jersey he retained a fortnight ago. Tour de France champion Chris Froome, wearing his yellow jersey, took third place after being part of the late four-man break, along with white jersey Adam Yates.

"It was a very fast start," said Sagan. "A breakaway got caught, another one started. Eventually the race became a bit more quiet so I waited for three or four laps to go to make my move because I knew I'd suffer too much if I bridged the gap on all the attackers. We rode strongly at the end. I was the fastest of the four so it went well for me."

Japanese cyclists had their moments of glory with junior rider Kento Omachi setting the best time in the opening time trial ahead of the first professional Petr Vakov (Etixx-Quick Step). Yukiya Arashiro (Lampre-Merida), racing with Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo) as the Tour de France-Japan team, then won the points race.

The criterium itself - the main event - started on a fast note with six riders breaking away: Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step), Michal Golas (Team Sky), Taisei Kobayahsi (Japan), Kazushige Kuboki (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Hideto Nakane (Aisan). Bardet went solo with 23km to go and was replaced at the front by his team-mate Alexis Vuillermoz, who saw an opportunity to get cheered as he took off with the two local stars Beppu and Arashiro - the first Japanese cyclists to complete the Tour de France in 2009.

"With these two guys, it felt like being at the front on the Champs-Elysées - they're so popular!", Vuillermoz told Cyclingnews.

The trio led the race from 15km to 5km to go. As they got reined in, Froome, Sagan, Hatsuyama and Yates made the winning move. An average speed of 41.7km/h was recorded in the 57km long race, which is quite high for professional cyclists during their off-season.

"I didn't expect the race to be that fast - it was certainly a long lasting effort," added Vuillermoz. "The finale was a bit similar to stage 11 to Montpellier with Sagan. I didn't want the race to end with a sprint so I attacked with two laps to go but he came across to me straight away. The crowd was absolutely amazing, as always in Japan. They're so knowledgeable about the sport. They follow everything so closely. It's special to finish the season here."

The Saitama Criterium is set to welcome Tour de France champions for the next three years at least. 

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team1:22:02 
2Sho Hatsuyuma (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team  
3Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky  
4Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange0:00:05 
5Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:12 
6Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
7Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
8Shimpei Fukuda (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team  
9Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
10Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
11Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
12Takeaki Ayabe (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team  
13Hayato Okamoto (Jpn) Japan  
14Daisuke Kaneko (Jpn) Matrix Powertag  
15Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step  
16Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
17Eiya Hashimoto (Jpn) Japan  
18Kazuki Kobayashi (Jpn) Japan  
19Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team  
20Hideto Nakane (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team  
21Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:18 
22Ryohei Komori (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team  
23Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
24Mikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
25Yuya Amikaru (Jpn) Shimano Racing Team  
26Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky  
27Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky  
28Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange  
29Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
30Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
31Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff Team  
32Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step  
33Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-BikeExchange  
34Christian Meier (Can) Orica-BikeExchange  
35Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Lampre - Merida  
36Kohei Uchima (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team  
37Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
38Ryu Suzuki (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team  
39Yuri Kobashi (Jpn) Shimano Racing Team  
40Yuma Koishi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
41Ryota Nishizono (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team  
42Taisei Kobayashi (Jpn) Japan  
43Kazushige Kuboki (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
44Manabu Shibashi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
45Marino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
46Shigetomo Nakanishi (Jpn) Korail Cycling Team  
47Keisuke Kimura (Jpn) Shimano Racing Team  
48Kosuke Aso (Jpn) Korail Cycling Team  
49Kenji Itami (Jpn) Korail Cycling Team  
50Satoshi Nakagawa (Jpn) Matrix Powertag  
DNFRyosuke Hashimoto (Jpn) Matrix Powertag  

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