Peter Sagan wins Saitama Criterium

Peter Sagan emerged as the winner of the fourth edition of the Saitama Criterium, outsprinting Japanese champion Sho Hatsuyama at the end of a fast race.

With the event run by Tour de France organisers ASO, Sagan was wearing the green jersey he won in July - rather than the world champion's rainbow jersey he retained a fortnight ago. Tour de France champion Chris Froome, wearing his yellow jersey, took third place after being part of the late four-man break, along with white jersey Adam Yates.

"It was a very fast start," said Sagan. "A breakaway got caught, another one started. Eventually the race became a bit more quiet so I waited for three or four laps to go to make my move because I knew I'd suffer too much if I bridged the gap on all the attackers. We rode strongly at the end. I was the fastest of the four so it went well for me."

Japanese cyclists had their moments of glory with junior rider Kento Omachi setting the best time in the opening time trial ahead of the first professional Petr Vakov (Etixx-Quick Step). Yukiya Arashiro (Lampre-Merida), racing with Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo) as the Tour de France-Japan team, then won the points race.

The criterium itself - the main event - started on a fast note with six riders breaking away: Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step), Michal Golas (Team Sky), Taisei Kobayahsi (Japan), Kazushige Kuboki (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Hideto Nakane (Aisan). Bardet went solo with 23km to go and was replaced at the front by his team-mate Alexis Vuillermoz, who saw an opportunity to get cheered as he took off with the two local stars Beppu and Arashiro - the first Japanese cyclists to complete the Tour de France in 2009.

"With these two guys, it felt like being at the front on the Champs-Elysées - they're so popular!", Vuillermoz told Cyclingnews.

The trio led the race from 15km to 5km to go. As they got reined in, Froome, Sagan, Hatsuyama and Yates made the winning move. An average speed of 41.7km/h was recorded in the 57km long race, which is quite high for professional cyclists during their off-season.

"I didn't expect the race to be that fast - it was certainly a long lasting effort," added Vuillermoz. "The finale was a bit similar to stage 11 to Montpellier with Sagan. I didn't want the race to end with a sprint so I attacked with two laps to go but he came across to me straight away. The crowd was absolutely amazing, as always in Japan. They're so knowledgeable about the sport. They follow everything so closely. It's special to finish the season here."

The Saitama Criterium is set to welcome Tour de France champions for the next three years at least. 


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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team1:22:02
2Sho Hatsuyuma (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling TeamRow 1 - Cell 2
3Christopher Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 2 - Cell 2
4Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange0:00:05
5Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:12
6Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 5 - Cell 2
7Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-SegafredoRow 6 - Cell 2
8Shimpei Fukuda (Jpn) Aisan Racing TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 8 - Cell 2
10Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 9 - Cell 2
11Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 10 - Cell 2
12Takeaki Ayabe (Jpn) Aisan Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Hayato Okamoto (Jpn) JapanRow 12 - Cell 2
14Daisuke Kaneko (Jpn) Matrix PowertagRow 13 - Cell 2
15Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 14 - Cell 2
16Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 15 - Cell 2
17Eiya Hashimoto (Jpn) JapanRow 16 - Cell 2
18Kazuki Kobayashi (Jpn) JapanRow 17 - Cell 2
19Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Hideto Nakane (Jpn) Aisan Racing TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:18
22Ryohei Komori (Jpn) Aisan Racing TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 22 - Cell 2
24Mikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 23 - Cell 2
25Yuya Amikaru (Jpn) Shimano Racing TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Wouter Poels (Ned) Team SkyRow 25 - Cell 2
27Ian Boswell (USA) Team SkyRow 26 - Cell 2
28Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 27 - Cell 2
29Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 28 - Cell 2
30Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 31 - Cell 2
33Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 32 - Cell 2
34Christian Meier (Can) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 33 - Cell 2
35Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Lampre - MeridaRow 34 - Cell 2
36Kohei Uchima (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Michal Golas (Pol) Team SkyRow 36 - Cell 2
38Ryu Suzuki (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling TeamRow 37 - Cell 2
39Yuri Kobashi (Jpn) Shimano Racing TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Yuma Koishi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 39 - Cell 2
41Ryota Nishizono (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor Cycling TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Taisei Kobayashi (Jpn) JapanRow 41 - Cell 2
43Kazushige Kuboki (Jpn) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 42 - Cell 2
44Manabu Shibashi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 43 - Cell 2
45Marino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 44 - Cell 2
46Shigetomo Nakanishi (Jpn) Korail Cycling TeamRow 45 - Cell 2
47Keisuke Kimura (Jpn) Shimano Racing TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Kosuke Aso (Jpn) Korail Cycling TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Kenji Itami (Jpn) Korail Cycling TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Satoshi Nakagawa (Jpn) Matrix PowertagRow 49 - Cell 2
DNFRyosuke Hashimoto (Jpn) Matrix PowertagRow 50 - Cell 2

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