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Peter Sagan wins Saitama Criterium

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Peter Sagan wins the 2016 Saitama Criterium

Peter Sagan wins the 2016 Saitama Criterium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Fumiyuki Beppu wins the prize for most aggressive rider

Fumiyuki Beppu wins the prize for most aggressive rider
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Romain Bardet topped the mountains classification

Romain Bardet topped the mountains classification
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel topped the points classification

Marcel Kittel topped the points classification
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan tops the Saitama Criterium podium

Peter Sagan tops the Saitama Criterium podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan collects his prizes

Peter Sagan collects his prizes
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan on the podium

Peter Sagan on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Yukiya Arashiro won the points race

Yukiya Arashiro won the points race
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Petr Vakoc won the time trial

Petr Vakoc won the time trial
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Romain Bardet on the move

Romain Bardet on the move
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Adam Yates on the podium

Adam Yates on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Bridgestone-Anchor were the best Japanese team

Bridgestone-Anchor were the best Japanese team
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tinkoff were the best team

Tinkoff were the best team
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan pulls a wheelie for the fans

Peter Sagan pulls a wheelie for the fans
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan pulls a wheelie for the fans

Peter Sagan pulls a wheelie for the fans
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Sagan raises his arm in celebration

Sagan raises his arm in celebration
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The sprint for the line at the Saitama Criterium

The sprint for the line at the Saitama Criterium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Top riders on the podium at the Saitama Criterium

Top riders on the podium at the Saitama Criterium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Marcel Kittel on the attack

Marcel Kittel on the attack
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan celebrates with a wheelie

Peter Sagan celebrates with a wheelie
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan wins the 2016 Saitama Criterium

Peter Sagan wins the 2016 Saitama Criterium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan raises his arm in celebration

Peter Sagan raises his arm in celebration
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan sprints for the line

Peter Sagan sprints for the line
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

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. 

Results

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

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