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Kittel wins Saitama Criterium

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Nicolas Roche, Peter Sagan and Chris Froome on the start line.

Nicolas Roche, Peter Sagan and Chris Froome on the start line.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The boys of summer at the Saitama Criterium.

The boys of summer at the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Saitama Criterium included a brief stretch indoors.

The Saitama Criterium included a brief stretch indoors.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Vincenzo Nibali, Marcel Kittel and Rafal Majka at the Saitama Criterium.

Vincenzo Nibali, Marcel Kittel and Rafal Majka at the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) wins a sprint in the points race.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) wins a sprint in the points race.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Saitama Criterium peloton in action.

The Saitama Criterium peloton in action.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Saitama Criterium brings the Tour de France brand to Japan.

The Saitama Criterium brings the Tour de France brand to Japan.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) wins the Saitama Criterium.

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) wins the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Nicolas Roche made his last appearance for Tinkoff-Saxo at the Saitama Criterium.

Nicolas Roche made his last appearance for Tinkoff-Saxo at the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) at the Saitama Criterium.

Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) at the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the Saitama Criterium.

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel won the Saitama Criterium from Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff.

Marcel Kittel won the Saitama Criterium from Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali was feted in Saitama.

Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali was feted in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Vincenzo Nibali waits in the boxes at the Saitama Criterium.

Vincenzo Nibali waits in the boxes at the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro at the Saitama Criterium.

Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro at the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Gatis Smukulis (Katusha).

Gatis Smukulis (Katusha).
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) reports for duty in Saitama.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) reports for duty in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Chris Froome's final race of 2014 was in Saitama.

Chris Froome's final race of 2014 was in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan dons the green jersey once more in Saitama.

Peter Sagan dons the green jersey once more in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Vincenzo Nibali rides to sign on in Saitama.

Vincenzo Nibali rides to sign on in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in action in Saitama.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in action in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel and Alexander Kristoff

Marcel Kittel and Alexander Kristoff
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) en route to victory in the Saitama Criterium.

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) en route to victory in the Saitama Criterium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alexander Kristoff opened the sprint but Marcel Kittel came past for the win.

Alexander Kristoff opened the sprint but Marcel Kittel came past for the win.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The stars of the Tour de France put on a show in Saitama, Japan.

The stars of the Tour de France put on a show in Saitama, Japan.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) emerges to win in Saitama.

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) emerges to win in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) beat Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare in the sprint.

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) beat Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare in the sprint.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) wins in Saitama.

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) wins in Saitama.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the second edition of the Saitama Criterium by Tour de France, beating Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in a small group finish.

The closing stages of the criterium featured the obligatory attack from Vincenzo Nibali, who wore the yellow jersey of Tour de France winner. When he was pegged back in the finishing straight, the top sprinters from this year’s Grande Boucle came to the fore, with Kittel overhauling Kristoff within sight of the line to claim the win.

In the second running of the Japanese event, the stars of July again attracted enormous crowds to the roadside in the centre of Saitama for an event billed by ASO as the 22nd stage of the Tour de France.

The Saitama event marries the Japanese keirin tradition to the Tour de France and thus before the main criterium, the field was broken into groups for two separate points races. The first race saw Chris Froome (Sky) among those sprinting for points but it was won by Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

"It's nice to finish the season like that, because it's my last race in a Saxo-Tinkoff jersey. It's also a little bit like winning a stage of the Tour: I get the same music on the podium,” Roche said.

The spoils in the second points race fell to Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr), who saw off the challenges of Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) and Nibali.

Not surprisingly, the concluding event, the 60km criterium, saw Tour polka dot jersey Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nibali among the attackers, as well as local favourites Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Fumiyuku Beppu (Trek Factory Racing).

Arashiro and Beppu led into the final lap, but where swept up by the main contenders. Nibali put in a crowd-pleasing effort in the finale before Kittel claimed the sprint.

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano1:24:39
2Peter Sagan (Slo) Cannondale
3Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
4Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr
5Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Tour De France Japan Team
6Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
7Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:02
8Koen de Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano0:00:05
9Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
10Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Tour De France Japan Team0:00:10

 

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