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UCI Asia Tour hopefuls

By Tom Rodgers

The Aisan Racing Team is a young outfit that has been racing on the UCI Asian ProTour since 2006. For this year's edition general manager Kenji Nakane has assembled a squad of up-and-coming riders and combined it with a few more established names for experience.

Though the team just returned from a disappointing Tour of Thailand, the riders remain hopeful that their fine early season form will return as they begin preparation for the Malaysian Tour from April 19 to 26.

A realistic goal for the Aisan outfit is to grab a couple of stage victories in the Tour of Japan, which kicks off on May 17. The team also targets the Japan Cup in October.

So far, the team achieved good results through Taiji Nishitani and Masahiro Shinagawa.

Nishitani finished second three times in Taiwan and came home in fifth overall. Nishitani is a sprinter, with considerable success on the track as a youngster. He also represented Japan at the Track World Championships. The 28-year-old has worked hard to become a more complete rider.

Shinagawa was drafted into the Aisan team from the Japanese Skil-Shimano team in 2008. He recently won the West Japan Challenge Cup race, indicating his early season form. Shinagawa already has some Euro race experience, having done Gent-Wevelgem and Paris–Roubaix for the Skil-Shimano European team.

Shinagawa agrees he needs to get mentally tougher. "My greatest rival is myself," he told Cyclingnews.

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