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Saitama Criterium: Riders learn Karate moves and play football-darts - Gallery

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Michal Kwiatkowski at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Michal Kwiatkowski shows off his karate moves at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Egan Bernal wore his Tour de France yellow jersey at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Jumbo-Visma at the team presentation of the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Egan Bernal and Chris Froome line-up for the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium presentation (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Chris Froome (Team Ineos) is back in action at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Jakob Fuglsang leads Astana at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Romain Bardet with his AG2R-La Mondiale teammates at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Primoz Roglic enjoys a joke at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Matteo Trentin seems happy to play at karate at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Riders practice their karate at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Cyclists prove they are no black belts at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Mitchelton-Scott wave to the crowds (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Egan Bernal signs an autograph (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

The Saitama fans go wild for Egan Bernal (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Jakob Fuglsang signs an autograph (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

The riders pose with their karate masters (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Yukiya Arashiro, Lilian Calmejane, Michal Kwiatkowski, Matteo Trentin and Marcel Kittel show their karate skills (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

After the football-darts, the match was decided on bikes (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Jakob Fuglsang, Romain Bardet, Primoz Roglic and Egan Bernal formed a football-darts dream team (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Romain Bardet takes a shot (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Riders do karate and football-darts before the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Egan Bernal plays football-darts (Image credit: Getty Images)
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The build-up up to the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Egan Bernal races on the static bike (Image credit: Bettini Photos)
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The build-up up to the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (Image credit: Bettini Photos)
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The build-up up to the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Chris Froome (Team Ineos) (Image credit: Bettini Photos)
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The build-up up to the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Egan Bernal takes a shot (Image credit: Bettini Photos)
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The build-up up to the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) was a late addition to the Saitama Criterium after Alejandro Valverde pulled out (Image credit: Bettini Photos)
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The build-up up to the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium

Chris Froome (Team Ineos) speaks on stage (Image credit: Bettini Photos)

The eve of the Saitama Tour de France Criterium was marked by the usual spectacle of professional cyclists dipping their toes in Japanese culture, with karate on the menu on Saturday along with – somewhat less traditionally – football-darts.

After riding with local children in the morning, the riders attended the team presentation in Saitama’s Super Arena in the afternoon, where they were called on stage in front of a crowd of guests and fans.

Michal Kwiatkowski, Matteo Trentin, Marcel Kittel Lilian Calmejane and Yukiya Arashiro then donned white robes for a demonstration of the martial art of karate. After being taken through a couple of the defensive and offensive moves, they all punched through a sheet of polystyrene.

"I think I’m ready now for the real brick," exclaimed Kwiatkowski, to the crowd’s delight.

Next came football darts, a game where you kick a soft football at a giant velcro dartboard. Egan Bernal, Primoz Roglic, Romain Bardet, and Jakob Fuglsang were up against a selection of players from the Urawa Red Diamonds team.

With Bardet – socks pulled up over his knees a la Thierry Henry – and Roglic both hitting trebles, the riders beat the footballers at their own game as the Pet Shop Boys’ Go West, a tune heard on terraces throughout Europe, rang out across the arena.

The footballers then tried to beat the riders at their own game, going head to head in a 500-metre sprint on a static bike.  An under-saddled Fuglsang and an over-geared Bardet were roundly beaten but Roglic and Bernal showed no mercy and peddled at full pelt to turn it around.

Click or swipe through the gallery above for a selection of photos from the event.