Written by Tim Woolman of Junee Racing Team
24 teams are set to tackle to beautiful scenery of Japan for the seventh edition of Tour of the Sanreizan.
While every rider will be admiring the cherry blossoms and the splendor of Mount Fuji, it looks like the General Classification could turn into a two horse race between Aleksander Konjevic of Junee Racing Team, and Chatwin Stiver of Driehoek. Both are in TF with strong teams behind them.
The Sprint classification will be far more interesting in the absence of Jurgen Devenyns, the winner of the last two SC jerseys. It could come down to a battle between the historic might of Nairobi City Cycling Club and the perennial podium filler USA Postal Services.
The YC jersey could be anyones, as long as that anyone puts time on his rivals in the mountains and can consolidate in the TT.
But whatever happens, i'm sure the teams will be enjoying fresh sushi and a glass or two of sake at the end of each stage.
USA Postal Services
After 2nd and 3rd places behind Jurgen Devenyns in the previous two editions of TotS, USA Postal are clearly here to go one better and win SC. Will they go top 3 in SC? Yep. Will they win the jersey? Not sure, but an injury to Christian certainly won’t help their cause.
Junee Racing Team
I might be biased, but with 5 of the 6 squad members in TF, including captain Konjevic, it’s hard to see the GC jersey not heading back to Australia. Stranger things have happened, but they could be hard to beat.
Chatwin Stiver will be the biggest threat to Konjevic in the GC. He and Marcellino are both in top form, with a strong climbing squad helping them. It could come down to the TT stage. Will definitely be up there in GC.
BGK Cycling Team
Ian Barone has ridden well in TotS in previous editions, but appears to be a TM behind Lalsimbra. Could manage a top 9, but won’t trouble for the win.
Lynn Cabell should be favourite for the YC jersey. I think he can have a good showing in GC finishing top 9, but without TF the podium MIGHT be out of reach. Also look for a good ride from Kampf in the mountains.
Coming in with the young Kitengi Fouety as captain, Broderbergbund could make YC interesting. A good TT could make the match up with Cabell interesting.
A nice team with Aristia at the helm. Aristia has had success in TotS in previous seasons, however is preparation might not have been 100% this time around. Pencil him in for top 9 GC.
Dalostto as captain. Could put in a good ride to maybe podium in YC, but doesn’t have the team to make a big impact in GC.
Could look for top 9 rides in Stages 1 and 5, but lacks the team support to look for a big results in SC.
Castaneda should be able to break into the top 9 GC, possibly earning some low money and points
along the way.
Quite possibly the oldest team signed up. Pereira’s glory days are long gone, but fingers crossed he’s got the legs of a younger man to make a good showing. I think the team will be enjoying the scenery.
UK Postal Service
Not sure what to expect from this team. Captain Gauw isn’t the strongest climber on the team, but isn’t the weakest either. Won’t trouble for stage wins, GC, SC or YC. Wouldn’t be surprised if Gauw finishes top 9, but also wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t. Could be a good learning experience.
Righi could learn a lot from this tour. He has virtually no team help, and has no TT skills, so this tour should be all about gaining experience for him. Depending on other riders, Righi might feature lower in the YC ranks unless he pulls out the ride of his career.
Petyabike appears to be coming into TotS with Verbeeck as Captain. Is this their best option? Nope. Given the strength of other teams and riders, Verbeeck won’t feature anywhere in GC and won’t challenge for any stage wins. Best bet? Kota as captain for YC. Without any TT skills, he might not challenge for the win against a rider like Cabell, but I think he could podium.
vgnpnx, Canuelas, and HTK
Unfortunatelty, these teams will be enjoying the sights of Japan. Just not strong enough to challenge the likes of Junee Racing Team or Driehoek.
Best chance for some kind of result for this team is with Giron in Stages 1 and 5. Problem is, they don’t have the team to make that as reality. The other problem is they don’t have a GC team either. Could simply be here for the experience.
Could go for top 9 results in Stages 1 and 5 with Taylor. Gholson might feature in the TT but his lack of climbing skills could count against him.
Captain Catalan might have a good ride, but I don’t feel he will feature in GC. Has good team to try and get him a good result. No TT skills will hurt.
I hope Hamner can do well in SC. Berto92 is one of the few team here with an eye on SC. Either way it will be a great experience for them.
Nairobi City Cycling Club
One of OCMs most legendary teams. Former home of Bongo Longosiwa, the greatest rider of all time. Nabbed the first of the reserve spots, they are here with a beautifully young team, rebuilding their dynasty and looking for results in SC, and I think they will get them. Kipchoge appears to be captain, with Blom in TF. I have a feeling that the SC jersey will be heading to Kenya.
Picked up the second of the reserve spots. They won’t challenge for anything, but aren’t just here to make up the numbers. Will use this tour for experience.
Last, but not least, the last reserve spot going to a team that could have an impact on GC. Is a podium on the cards? I don’t think so. But should definitely be able to crack the top 9 and nab some points.