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Japan Cup criterium: Canola wins, Contador stars, Porte returns - Gallery

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Marco Canola celebrates his victory

Marco Canola celebrates his victory
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alberto Contador was popular with the local fans

Alberto Contador was popular with the local fans
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marco Canola, Juanjo Lobato, and Bram Welten with the bubbly on the podium

Marco Canola, Juanjo Lobato, and Bram Welten with the bubbly on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Trek-Segafredo team

The Trek-Segafredo team
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Thumbs up from Contador

Thumbs up from Contador
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alex Howes greets the fans

Alex Howes greets the fans
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The riders on the start line

The riders on the start line
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Contador comes through for a turn

Contador comes through for a turn
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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It was a wet afternoon

It was a wet afternoon
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Trek on the front

Trek on the front
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Trek-Segafredo lead the peloton

Trek-Segafredo lead the peloton
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The peloton lined our

The peloton lined our
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Japan Cup criterium took place in Utsunomiya

The Japan Cup criterium took place in Utsunomiya
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The riders come over one of the uphill kicks

The riders come over one of the uphill kicks
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The corners were treacherous in the wet

The corners were treacherous in the wet
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marco Canola accepts one of his prizes

Marco Canola accepts one of his prizes
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The final podium of Lobato, Canola, and Welten (L-R)

The final podium of Lobato, Canola, and Welten (L-R)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alberto Contador rides in the bunch

Alberto Contador rides in the bunch
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Juanjo Lobato crosses the line in second place

Juanjo Lobato crosses the line in second place
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Canola was strongest on the uphill kick

Canola was strongest on the uphill kick
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Nippo-Vini Fantini team

The Nippo-Vini Fantini team
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marco Canola enjoying his win

Marco Canola enjoying his win
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The BMC team at the Japan Cup criterium

The BMC team at the Japan Cup criterium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Selfie duty for Richie Porte at the Japan Cup

Selfie duty for Richie Porte at the Japan Cup
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Richie Porte was back in action after his Tour de France crash

Richie Porte was back in action after his Tour de France crash
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alberto Contador was a star attraction

Alberto Contador was a star attraction
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Contador addresses the crowds

Contador addresses the crowds
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The cameras were all on Contador

The cameras were all on Contador
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Japanese fans braved the rain

The Japanese fans braved the rain
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Nippo-Vini Fantini's Marco Canola took the victory in the criterium at the Japan Cup, the precursor to the main road race event on Sunday. 

The Italian, riding for the Italian Pro Continental team that has Japanese backing, triumphed in the expected sprint after a messy final kilometre. LottoNL-Jumbo's Juan Jose Lobato finished second, while BMC stagiaire Bram Welten took third place. 

The 38.25km course was based on laps of a 2.25km circuit in Utsunomiya and Canola had to overcome a late mechanical to get back into contention, before catching his opponents off guard with a long-range sprint. 

"I had a mechanical problem and, given the short length of the race, I changed bikes quickly and I was able, fortunately, to get back into the peloton and in the wheels until the final lap," said Canola. "Covering the circuit multiple times, we were able to study it, and I took the last bend in fourth place and I launched my sprint early. Holding it to the line with hard but fortunately I had enough in the legs to finish it off."

The event was marked by appearances from Richie Porte and the recently-retired Alberto Contador. Porte was making his first racing appearance since dramatically crashing out of the Tour de France on stage 9 in July.

The Australian had suffered a broken collarbone and pelvis and is in Japan to lay the foundations ahead of the off-season and the 2018 season. 

"It was a fast criterium, and the weather wasn't the best, but it was nice to get back on the bike and ride with the guys," said Porte. "It is a fun race here, and it is good to come back with no pressure.

"For me, it was also nice to be part of Alberto Contador's last race. We were teammates for one year, and it was kind of cool to be part of that. For us as a team, Bram Welten was good and finished third, and Danilo Wyss looked strong when he attacked. It was a nice way to start our time in Japan, and it was a bit of an opener for tomorrow. I have to be realistic about tomorrow. It is a hard race, and my main goal will be to cross the finish line."

Contador was one of the star attractions, and took to Instagram to post a video of all the presents he'd received from fans upon arrival in Japan. 

 

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