For the third straight season, Chris Froome will end with season with the Saitama Criterium race next month. Froome, the winner of the inaugural 2013 event, is currently recovering from a broken navicular, which forced him to withdraw from the Vuelta a Espana, but assured race organisers he will be fit to take the start line on October 24. The 2015 Tour de France winner will be joined by Team Sky teammate Riche Porte for one final race before the Australian makes the switch to BMC Racing from 2016.
Froome was forced to miss the World Championships due to his foot injury having started each edition of the race since 2011.
Joining Froome and Team Sky in Japan are WorldTour teams Team Giant-Alpecin, Katusha, Ag2r-La Mondiale, Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing and French Pro-Continental Tour de France wild card entrant Europcar.
For 2015, the Saitama Criterium has added a 3.1km time trial to the schedule with one rider from each of the seven teams invited to contest. In addition, riders from a para-cycling and women's team have also been invited. The time trial will be followed by a 7-lap, 21km point race featuring the professional seven teams and select Japanese teams. The Saitama Criterium will conclude with the main race which will see 56 riders cover the 57km 19-lap of the circuit.
2015 Tour de France stage winners Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Romain Bardet, Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) have also been named as starters for the Saitama Criterium. Local fans will be able to cheer on Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek) who did not ride the Tour this year but have done so in previous seasons.
Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb joins teammate Gescke for the Japanese race and will look to emulate countryman and teammate Marcel Kittel's victory from 2014
The main riders of the 2015 Saitama Criterium;