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Japan postpones women's nationals over team car dispute

A fan holds the Japanese flag
A fan holds the Japanese flag (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Japanese Cycling Federation (JCF) announced that the elite women and under-23 women's National Championships will not go forward as scheduled on Saturday over safety concerns regarding the inclusion of team cars in the race.

According to a press release on the federation's website, the course in Hiroshima's Central Forest Park includes narrow, twisting roads and they attempted to impose special rules banning teams from having cars following the race. Riders would receive assistance from neutral support.

"As a result of past accident investigations at this race venue, as well as a review of the course, road width, and other factors, special rules have been established that do not allow team cars to run at this venue beginning with the 2021 event," the JCF stated.

However, one of the women objected to the special rules, arguing that National Championships are held under UCI rules, and the UCI rules allow for one team car. On June 10th, the athlete's appeal was heard by the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency (JSAA) and, on June 18th, the arbitrators decided in favour of the athlete and required the race go ahead without the special rule banning team cars.

"The organizers of the event have decided that the deletion of this special rule to allow one team car per team would seriously jeopardize the safety of the race. In order to prioritize the safety of athletes, spectators, and other related parties, the JCF has decided not to hold any races related to the above arbitration decision," the JCF stated.

The All-Japan championships used the same course in 2021 and the JCF described it as "generally narrow and has many winding sections with poor visibility on descents. The course is recognized as a course with a high potential for danger to athletes if a large number of vehicles, such as four-wheeled vehicles, are allowed on the course for competition management."

"We apologize for the inconvenience caused by the postponement of the race less than a week before the start of the event, and we apologize to the scheduled competitors and all other parties concerned," the JCF announcement read.

The under-23 and elite men's races will still go on as planned without team vehicles.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.