Dion Smith of Mitchelton-SCOTT has finished third in the Japan Cup.  In a race where just 40 riders made it to the finish, Smith outsprinted Francisco Mancebo and Sepp Kuss as Bauke Mollema backed up his Il Lombardia win of a week prior with victory in Utsunomiya.

For many the Japan Cup represents the season’s end, and it’s been a race that in the past has been to the liking of New Zealanders, with Jack Bauer taking second place back in 2013.  This year Dion Smith lined up alongside compatriot James Fouche, New Zealand’s favourite Aussie Robert Stannard, and Cameron Meyer.

It was Stannard who made the early impression on the race, infiltrating a breakaway group of eight riders that went up the road and established themselves at the head of the race.  The race itself was comprised of 14 laps of a tricky circuit that featured the climb of Mount Kogashiyama; a 5km rise averaging 3.4% each time.  Stannard stayed out with his breakaway companions – that included Trek-Segafredo’s Giulio Ciccone – for a good chunk of the race before the break was finally brought back and a group of 20 riders established themselves at the head of the race; amongst them Dion Smith.  The selection was thanks in a large part to the force generated at the head of the race by Robert Gesink and Jumbo-Visma.

With two laps remaining there was still a large group in contention for the race, but an attack from Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo and Michael Woods of EF Education First put paid to that.  The duo built an initial lead of 20-30 seconds which then steadily grew until they arrived at the finish line with a 44 second lead.  Dion Smith, Francisco Mancebo of Matrix Powertag and Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss launched a chase effort along with Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè’s Hideto Nakane; and while they didn’t manage to regain contact with Woods or Mollema they were able to gap the rest of the field with the next riders on the road a further 1.25mins back at the finish.

Mollema had too much for Woods in the end, with the Dutchman taking his second victory in eight days, while in the sprint for third Dion Smith called on his reserves to take the final spot on the podium.

Afterwards Dion reflected on his performance in his season-ending race.  “I’m pretty happy to pull off a result and being the last race of the season it’s a cool way to cap it off,” Dion said in a team statement.  “I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to be but also knew I still had some good fitness there from the Vuelta which helped with going deep into the final.”

“The team goal was to get on the podium, the plan was to try to get someone in the move to open options later in the race and having Rob there was ideal.  With only four of us in the team we just had to sit back, ride good position and follow the other World Tour teams.”

Smith had high praise for New Zealand national road race champion James Fouche, who is currently a stagiaire with the team, having spent the brunt of the season in the Wiggins Le Col set up.  “James Fouche did a good job helping me and making sure I had everything all day so overall I think we can be happy with the outcome,” Dion said.

Bauke Mollema backed up his Il Lombardia win with victory in the Japan Cup, photo Sirotti

Results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1MOLLEMABaukeNED       TREK – SEGAFREDO3:41:13
2WOODSMichaelCAN       EF EDUCATION FIRST3:41:14
3SMITHDionNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT3:41:57
4MANCEBO PEREZFranciscoESP       MATRIX POWERTAG3:41:57
5KUSSSeppUSA       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA3:41:57
6NAKANEHidetoJPN       NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – FAIZANE’3:42:05
7POWLESSNeilsonUSA       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA3:43:22
8GESINKRobertNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA3:43:22
9MOLLYKennyBEL       WALLONIE BRUXELLES3:43:44
10AULAR SANABRIAOrluis AlbertoVEN       MATRIX POWERTAG3:43:44
11KRUIJSWIJKStevenNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA3:43:44
12DE ROSSILucasFRA       DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE 3:43:48
13ARASHIROYukiyaJPN       BAHRAIN – MERIDA3:45:46
14MASUDANariyukiJPN       UTSUNOMIYA BLITZEN3:45:46
15DYBALLBenjaminAUS       TEAM SAPURA CYCLING3:45:50
16PLANETCharlesFRA       TEAM NOVO NORDISK3:46:04
17LOZANO RIBADavidESP       TEAM NOVO NORDISK3:46:04
18EGNiklasDEN       TREK – SEGAFREDO3:46:15
19CICCONEGiulioITA       TREK – SEGAFREDO3:46:15
20PERNSTEINERHermannAUT       BAHRAIN – MERIDA3:46:15
21OKAAtsushiJPN       UTSUNOMIYA BLITZEN3:47:11
22ROCHASRémyFRA       DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE 3:47:19
23DELETTREAlexandreFRA       DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE 3:48:09
24COLBRELLISonnyITA       BAHRAIN – MERIDA3:48:09
25KOIDEItsukiJPN       JAPAN3:50:56
26MAGOSAKIDaikiJPN       TEAM BRIDGESTONE CYCLING3:51:14
27CHANCEMaxxUSA       WILDLIFE GENERATION PRO CYCLING P / B MAXXIS3:51:14
28HATANAKAYusukeJPN       TEAM UKYO3:51:14
29YASUHARADaikiJPN       MATRIX POWERTAG3:51:14
30PAASSCHENSMathijsNED       WALLONIE BRUXELLES3:51:14
31TORIBIO ALCOLEAJose VicenteESP       MATRIX POWERTAG3:51:14
32GROŠELJMaticSLO       LJUBLJANA GUSTO SANTIC3:51:14
33SAIUDOMSINPhuchongTHA       THAILAND CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAM3:51:14
34ITOMasakazuJPN       NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – FAIZANE’3:51:14
35ISHIGAMIMasahiroJPN       NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – FAIZANE’3:51:14
36PLANCKAERTBaptisteBEL       WALLONIE BRUXELLES3:51:20
37ISHIBASHIManabuJPN       TEAM BRIDGESTONE CYCLING3:51:26
38HATSUYAMAShoJPN       NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – FAIZANE’3:51:42
39BOUWMANKoenNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA3:52:03
40IRIBEShotaroJPN       SHIMANO RACING TEAM3:52:16

SHIBATAMasayukiJPN       NASU BLASENDNF

KUSZTORPéterHUN       TEAM NOVO NORDISKDNF

HOFSTEDELennardNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMADNF

KOMORIRyoheiJPN       MATRIX POWERTAGDNF

PRADES REVERTERBenjamiESP       TEAM UKYODNF

KOISHIYumaJPN       TEAM UKYODNF

CANOLAMarcoITA       NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – FAIZANE’DNF

STANNARDRobertAUS       MITCHELTON – SCOTTDNF

HILLBenjaminAUS       LJUBLJANA GUSTO SANTICDNF

FOUCHEJamesNZL       TEAM WIGGINS LECOLDNF

ROSSKentUSA       WILDLIFE GENERATION PRO CYCLING P / B MAXXISDNF

THEUNSEdwardBEL       TREK – SEGAFREDODNF

BERNARDJulienFRA       TREK – SEGAFREDODNF

JONESBrentonAUS       DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE DNF

PENGYuan TangTPE       LJUBLJANA GUSTO SANTICDNF

ONODERAReiJPN       UTSUNOMIYA BLITZENDNF

TOKUDASuguruJPN       TEAM BRIDGESTONE CYCLINGDNF

KIMURAKeisukeJPN       SHIMANO RACING TEAMDNF

BEPPUFumiyukiJPN       TREK – SEGAFREDODNF

CARUSODamianoITA       BAHRAIN – MERIDADNF

PIBERNIKLukaSLO       BAHRAIN – MERIDADNF

NOVAKDomenSLO       BAHRAIN – MERIDADNF

CHAIYASOMBATThanakhanTHA       THAILAND CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAMDNF

YAOWARATRatchanonTHA       THAILAND CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAMDNF

SIRIRONNACHAISarawutTHA       THAILAND CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAMDNF

WATANABEAyumuJPN       JAPANDNF

BROWNNathanUSA       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNF

HORITakaakiJPN       UTSUNOMIYA BLITZENDNF

CARRSimonGBR       DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE DNF

MORTONLachlanAUS       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNF

KOROŠECRokSLO       LJUBLJANA GUSTO SANTICDNF

SUZUKIYuzuruJPN       UTSUNOMIYA BLITZENDNF

SUZUKIRyuJPN       UTSUNOMIYA BLITZENDNF

HIRATSUKAYoshimitsuJPN       TEAM BRIDGESTONE CYCLINGDNF

WHELANJamesAUS       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNF

YOKOTSUKAKoheiJPN       TEAM UKYODNF

ODAHijiriJPN       JAPANDNF

BOARDMANSamuelUSA       WILDLIFE GENERATION PRO CYCLING P / B MAXXISDNF

WIRTGENTomLUX       WALLONIE BRUXELLESDNF

WIRTGENLucLUX       WALLONIE – BRUXELLES DEVELOPMENT TEAM DNF

KOBAYASHIMarinoJPN       JAPANDNF

PAQUOTTomBEL       WALLONIE – BRUXELLES DEVELOPMENT TEAM DNF

ISHIHARAYukiJPN       JAPANDNF

TAKEYAMAKosukeJPN       TEAM UKYODNF

KUROEDAShikiJPN       TEAM BRIDGESTONE CYCLINGDNF

HUANGWen ChungTPE       LJUBLJANA GUSTO SANTICDNF

NISHIOHayatoJPN       NASU BLASENDNF

MISBAHMuhsin Al RedhaMAS       TEAM SAPURA CYCLINGDNF

FILOSIIuriITA       DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE DNF

MOHD SHUKRIMuhammad Shaiful AdlanMAS       TEAM SAPURA CYCLINGDNF

YAMAMOTOGenkiJPN       KINAN CYCLING TEAMDNF

UCHIMAKoheiJPN       TEAM UKYODNF

CHIKATANIRyoJPN       TEAM BRIDGESTONE CYCLINGDNF

MINATORyoJPN       SHIMANO RACING TEAMDNF

FERNANDEZ CASASOLAAiranESP       MATRIX POWERTAGDNF

KAMSTRABrianNED       TEAM NOVO NORDISKDNF

HENTTALAJoonasFIN       TEAM NOVO NORDISKDNF

SHIMOJIMAMasakiJPN       NASU BLASENDNF

PHINNEYTaylorUSA       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNF

NISHIOKeitoJPN       NASU BLASENDNF

ZAKARIAAkmal HakimMAS       TEAM SAPURA CYCLINGDNF

CHAWCHIANGKWANGPeerapolTHA       THAILAND CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAMDNF

NAKAITadaakiJPN       SHIMANO RACING TEAMDNF

JASTRABRyanUSA       WILDLIFE GENERATION PRO CYCLING P / B MAXXISDNF

YOKOYAMAKotaJPN       SHIMANO RACING TEAMDNF

MATSUDAShoiJPN       JAPANDNF

KUROEDASayaJPN       SHIMANO RACING TEAMDNF

ZACCANTIFilippoITA       NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – FAIZANE’DNF

OKUBOJinJPN       KINAN CYCLING TEAMDNF

MEYERCameronAUS       MITCHELTON – SCOTTDNF

AMAGOITatsukiJPN       KINAN CYCLING TEAMDNF

NAKAJIMAYasuharuJPN       KINAN CYCLING TEAMDNF

NAKAMURAKaitoJPN       NASU BLASENDNF

SHIMPOMasatoshiJPN       NASU BLASENDNF

ABD RASIMMohamad Saari AmriMAS       TEAM SAPURA CYCLINGDNF

OZGURBatuhanTUR       TEAM SAPURA CYCLINGDNF

CLANCYStephenIRL       TEAM NOVO NORDISKDNF

KIRBYQuintenUSA       WILDLIFE GENERATION PRO CYCLING P / B MAXXISDNF

GUYTimothyAUS       LJUBLJANA GUSTO SANTICDNF

ARAIYutaJPN       KINAN CYCLING TEAMDNF

BENNETTSeanUSA       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNS

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