Top Japanese Team hopes French flair will boost their chances.

Media Release - Monday 25 November 2019

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 the top ranked Asian UCI team return 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 (general classification) in the Tour of Peninsula 2019 (Malaysia UCI 2.1) and Tour d'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.

KINAN Cycling Team - Japan

“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 also a big deal starting their 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 Cycle Team. Since then he has concentrated on racing in the Asian calendar, winning races and featuring in almost every stage race he participated in says Sandoval.

French hill climber Thomas Lebas will lead the KINAN Cycling Team from Japan

"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 the Wairarapa will really suit him."

KINAN Cycling Team spokesperson Ishida Tetsuya 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, the Capital city of New Zealand. 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.

KINAN finished eighth overall in the Tour 2019 and is aiming to go better in 2020.

“We were very happy to participate in the NZ Cycle Classic 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 is French rider Frederic Monier and Hayako 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 all three 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

55.        Yudai Arashiro - Japan

56.        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

ENDS

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