By Miwako Sasaki
Only two weeks after Italian Ivan Basso attended the Cycle Mode trade show, Japanese cycling fan got an opportunity to meet another International big-name rider. Spanish racer and ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde visited the Japan International Cycling Show, another bike show held on November 17-19 in Tokyo. Created in 1990, this year's show attracted 50,000 visitors.
Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team member Valverde was invited with his teammate Joaquin Rodriguez by Italian manufacturer Pinarello, the team's bike supplier The two Spaniards were joined by their wives on their short visit. Two years ago, Pinarello brought Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi to the same show.
Valverde and Rodriguez visited the show for only two days, but they signed plenty of autographs at the Pinarello booth and participated in an on-stage show four times. They answered questions about this season, their hobbies, their families, and the next season. The Pro Tour winner was very relaxed on the stage, and his compatriot Rodriguez, who joined to Caisse d'Epargne this season and worked for Valverde, was cheerful. Both riders joked casually with fans.
After day one of the show, Valverde joined in on a special cruising dinner on the river in Tokyo. It was traditional dinner, and the 26-year-old rider tasted Japanese dishes. But he said the next day that he'd lost one kilo, maybe due to the hard schedule for the show. Referring to the weight loss, Valverde joked, "I'm already getting ready for the Challenge Mallorca (the popular early season Spanish race in February)."
Pinarello's president Fausto Pinarello talked about the Valverde's bike the Paris Carbon. "It's the same bike available to the public, but in a special white colour model for ProTour leader," said Pinarello.
Valverde was not honoured as ProTour winner on the podium following the Giro di Lombardia in October due to a dispute between UCI ProTour officials and promoters of the three Grand Tours. But a month later, the Murcian rider was enthusiastically received by his fans in Japan, where he visited for his first time.
Valverde talked about the next season. "If I can get a good result in the Tour de France next year, I'll skip the Vuelta a España. And after I go to Worlds, then I'll come to the Japan Cup." Onlookers were excited by these words. "I want to come back to the Japan again next year, and to enjoy more."
Basso also had promised Japanese fans two weeks ago that he will come to Japan Cup if he wins the Tour de France next year which means that two big stars may participate in next year's Japan Cup.
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