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National champion dominates

Keiichi Tsujiura (Bridgestone-Anchor)

Keiichi Tsujiura (Bridgestone-Anchor) (Image credit: Hideaki Takagi)

By Kei Tsuji

The second race of the Kansai-cyclo, one of the Japan's cyclo series, was held in Yasugawa, near Lake Biwa. This race was the only chance to get UCI points for domestic cyclo-cross riders, and also very important for the national team selection for the worlds in Belgium. The course is largely flat as the Yasu river runs along it, and there are some sections covered with sand.

Under the dull sky, 41 top-class Japanese riders lined up for the race, including the national champion Keiichi Tsujiura, and podium-goer Masanori Kosaka. In addition, attention was focused on well-experienced rider, Masahiko Mifune, who announced his intention to retire at the end of this season. Banners displaying Mifune's name were visible all round the course.

From the beginning, the race was fully controlled by Tsujiura who wore the Japanese shining white champion jersey. After the first lap, a group of five riders, Tsujiura, Kosaka, Maruyama, Takenouchi and Mifune, formed together and no other riders could join it.

Gradually Tsujiura paced up and the others couldn't hold on to him. Only Kosaka could keep up with the fierce pace, but finally the power of the champion overwhelmed him. Tsujiura finished first and gained 30 UCI points. Though he was not in good condition, he succeeded to uphold the dignity of a champion.

See the full results and photos here.

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