The welcome mat will be laid out to two Japanese road cycling teams – each featuring top French riders – competing in the 2020 New Zealand Cycle Classic being held in the Wairarapa in January.
The KINAN Cycling Team, the No 2 UCI ranked team in the Asian calendar, is aiming to start 2020 in style by securing a top performance at the five-stage elite international men’s road cycling race being held from January 15th – 19th. They will be joined by the AISAN Racing Team, a UCI Continental registered team, as well as six other international teams who are yet to be announced.
New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval says having KINAN Cycling team returning to race in New Zealand is a huge deal.
“KINAN is an extremely competitive team who has achieved great results this year including winning first place overall in the individual GC in the Tour of Peninsula, and Tour de Indonesia 2019 (Indonesia UCI 2.1). In addition, many of their riders have participated in the Tours of Asia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan,” says Sandoval.
“Having the KINAN team race in the New Zealand Cycle Classic for the second year running is great news as not only does it lift the profile of our event in Asia enormously, but for KINAN it is a big deal to start their racing season in New Zealand.”
Leading the KINAN Cycling Team is French hill climber Thomas Lebas, winner of Tour de Hokkaido, Tour de Flores, the international Tour of Setif in Algeria as well as the Mountains competition. Lebas started his cycling career racing in Europe before being signed by the Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team. Since then he has concentrated on racing in the Asian calendar, winning races and featuring in almost every stage race he participates in says Sandoval.
“Thomas is a hill climber and winner of the King of the Mountain and general classification in this year’s Tour de Indonesia, a UCI 2.1 event,” says Sandoval. “He finished fifth in this year’s New Zealand Cycle Classic and I think the hills in Wairarapa will really suit him.”
KINAN Cycling Team spokesperson Tetsuya Ishida says the team is looking forward to competing in the Wairarapa, a region located just over an hour’s drive or train ride from Wellington. It will be the first time the team has raced there, after previously racing in the Waipa district in the North Island earlier this year.
“They [the team] look forward to revisiting New Zealand’s vast nature, beautiful city and friendly people. So, we are preparing for the best performance,” he says.
“We were very happy to participate in the NZCC 2019 and we have a new experience.
We can aim for a more strategic and better result in 2020,” he says. “We expect to be able to race in a good environment like last time. It also serves as a good training for the start of the season.”
Meanwhile the AISAN Racing team is led by Japanese rider Tomohiro Hayakawa, who has
achieved several top ten stage finishes in the Tour de Hokkaido, Tour de Taiwan and Jelajah Malaysia. Also in the team are Frenchman Frederic Monier and Hayato Okamoto, the Asian Under 23 road champion 2017, stage winner of the Tour de Taiwan, Tour de Hokkaido and sprint champion of Tour de Hokkaido.
The UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic begins in Masterton on Wednesday January 15th and concludes five days later with riders completing a total of 650+ kms, with the longest stage being 178.6 km.
Being held simultaneously with the NZ Cycle Classic will be a series of community events that celebrate the Wairarapa’s bike-friendly roads, tracks and trails; the people that ride on them and the bikes they ride with.
“Having the New Zealand Cycle Classic and these community events held simultaneously will give the community a chance to see some of the world’s best riders in action and provide them with opportunities to get out on their own bikes and discover the Wairarapa one road at a time,” says Mr Sandoval.
The 2020 NZ Cycle Classic is able to take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, WBS, Mobile Communications Service, WIZwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton and Lion Foundation plus the Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils.
KINAN Cycling Team -Japan
Team manager: Tetsuya Ishida
51 Thomas Lebas France
52 Yasuharu Nakajima Japan
53 Genki Yamamoto Japan
54 Hiroshi Tsubaki Japan
75 Yudai Arashiro Japan
76 Masaki Yamamoto Japan
AISAN Racing Team – Japan
Team manager: Takumi Beppu
21 Tomohiro Hayakawa Japan
22 Kota Sumiyoshi Japan
23 Shotaro Watanabe Japan
24 Hayato Okamoto Japan
25 Ken Nakagawa Japan
26 Frederic Monier France