Race: Japan Cup Criterium (Oct 19) & Japan Cup Road Race (Oct 20)
Total Distance: Japan Cup Criterium: 38.25 kilometers. Japan Cup Road Race: 144.2 kilometers
Race Class: Japan Cup Road Race: 1.HC
Team Novo Nordisk will end its 2019 season at the Japan Cup. The UCI 1.HC race is always a favorite among Team Novo Nordisk riders and this year’s race serves as the team’s sixth consecutive appearance. The world’s first all-diabetes team is motivated to build upon previous results when the first of two one-day races kicks off on Oct 19th.
“It is a wonderful tradition to end our season in Japan. This is a very special race because of the warm welcome we receive from the race organizer, fans, diabetes community, and Novo Nordisk Japanese affiliate,” Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko said. “The race is challenging but very well organized. We know this course and are heading into the race with a strategy to show our best results.”
Team Novo Nordisk is taking a six-man squad that includes David Lozano (ESP) and Charles Planet (FRA), both strong climbers who have raced at the Japan Cup before. Rounding out the roster are Stephen Clancy (IRL), Joonas Henttala (FIN), Brian Kamstra (NED), and Peter Kusztor (HUN). Kamstra and Kusztor are both making their Japan Cup debuts.
“Every year, I can’t wait to race in Japan. It is one of my favorite countries that I’ve raced in because the people are so nice and friendly,” Planet explained. “It is an amazing race with so many fans along the beautiful circuit. I’m never disappointed by the Japan Cup and the Japanese overall. I can’t wait to get there!”
The race starts on Saturday with the Japan Cup Cycle Criterium around downtown Utsunomiya. The event features two parade laps followed by 15 laps of high-speed racing around a 2.25-kilometer course including several u-turns.
“Charles has had a standout season and he will be our rider at the end of the road race along with David and Peter. This trio will be protected by Stephen, Joonas, and Brian,” Davidenko explained.
The Japan Cup continues on Sunday with the 144.2-km Japan Cup Cycle Road Race. The 14-lap race features a steep climb followed by a fast, technical descent through the Utsunomiya Forest Park.
“With four laps to go, I expect that we will start to see the demanding climb reduce the peloton and from there only the strongest will survive,” Davidenko said. “The key will be to keep our riders in front position on the very narrow road leading up to the climb.”
Racing his sixth Japan Cup, the 25-year-old Planet said he is very familiar with the road course and that this is a race he targets all season.
“My strategy will be to be up there in the final. It is a race based on attrition, so I hope for good legs and will fight for my best result possible,” Planet said. “It’s a very tough course but it suits me with a steep and short climb each lap. With it being the last race of the season, we never know how the body and form will be after spending so much energy this year but I’m super motivated to give it my best.”
Team Novo Nordisk Japan Cup Roster (Oct. 19-20)
Stephen Clancy (IRL), Joonas Henttala (FIN), Brian Kamstra (NED), Peter Kusztor (NED), David Lozano (ESP), Charles Planet (FRA)
Sport Director: Massimo Podenzana (ITA)