What's Cool In Road Cycling

Italians Invade: Japan Cup

– By Naco Furusawa –

The weather was very nice with sun-shine and with highest temperature around 21 degrees, though in the morning just before the start, it was very misty. I had a talk with Beltran (Coast and ex-MAPEI rider and…
my No.1 favourite Spanish rider) the day before and he was in a good condition. I asked if the leader shall be him or Casero and Hernandez confirmed that it will be El Triki (Beltran). Casero was not in a good condition while Triki was in good. He told me that he concluded the contract with Coast for the year 2003. Though he is a very good climber, the hill included in the Japan Cup was not a very hard one and in the end, the race became a competition of speed, thus, Beltran, who is a good climber but not a good sprinter lost some seconds in the end and was in the 5th place.

In the competition like the Japan Cup, the one-day stage racers were advantageous, such as Igor Astarloa. He was ranked 4th over all for the general classification for this year’s World cup. If Bartoli did not
win at the Lombardia, he should have been in the 3rd place. I went up to him to say congratulations for his 4th place and he smiled and looked very satisfied. I was very interested in him and checked his career
beforehand. He became pro in 2000 with Mercatone and he came to SAECO together with the director sportif Martinelli. I asked him “You love classics right? Is that why you do not join the Spanish team but choose
Italian for the sake of advantages of competing in the classic races?” and he said yes. He is rather a middle-climber than a sprinter. And loves classics. Though he participated in the Giro and Vuelta this year, he was not very good (between 60-70 in the Vuelta). I told him “it is not very bad!” and he said “but is it not very good neither!” and smiled. He lives near from San Sebastian. He was surprised when he heard that I have been there too myself. Like myself, he adores the
beautiful coast lines of San Sebastian. So that means that he is a Basque. Though he was very friendly the day before, he looked very nervous on the day of the race. That is the sign that he was very eager to win. The result was … he finished second. I am sure that he is the rider to be watched in 2003. For your information, he told me that he concluded a contract with SAECO for further 2 years.

The race took place with 11 laps in total riding in the hill of Utsunomiya. For the first few laps, Japanese riders lead the race. But after a few laps, they were caught by the peloton. Then the race were lead by around 12 riders which included Japanese riders like Shinri
Suzuki and Koki Shinpo and Lampre riders/ SAECO riders and Beltran etc. Beltran was not advantageous as he was solo. Neither Casero nor Hernandez were in the leading group. The race moved at the 10th laps.
Igor Astarloa (SAE) and Barbelo (LAM) accelerated and other riders dropped out. The race was decided, either two of them shall win! In the end, it was Barbelo who won by the goal sprint and the 3rd came Sacchi another SAECO rider. Lampre won in 2000 and 2001 for the Japan cup. So it was their 3rd consecutive victory. The results are available with the following official site.


1. Sergio Barbero (Ita-Lam) 4.03.29
2. Igor Astarloa Askasibar (Spa-Sae) s.t.
3. Fabio Sacchi (Ita-Sae) 0.18
4. Luca Paolini (Ita-Map)
5. Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa-Coa)
6. Massimo Codol (Ita-Lam)
7. Koki Shimbo (Jpn-*El.2)
8. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi-Lam)
9. Michael Rasmussen (Den-Cst) – all st
10. Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger-Mqs) 0.37

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