Posted by Editor on 09/15/98
Tour de Hokkaido 1998
(courtesy Kris Westwood)
15.09 Hakodate Prologue 1.5 km **TODAY**
16.09 Hakodate-Kitahiyama Road Race 178 km
17.09 Oshamanbe-Inwanai Road Race 136 km
18.09 Kutchan-Date Road Race 127 km
19.09 Muroran Circuit Race 100 km
20.09 Noboribetsu-Sapporo Road Race 148 km
21.09 Sapporo Criterium 100 km
The 1998 Tour of Hokkaido started today in the port city of Hakodate. This well organized international event is the biggest race on the Japanese calendar, allowing the organizers to invite several foreign national teams. Besides the Canadians, there are also teams from Ireland, New Zealand, USA and Korea as well as the best Japanese teams. There are also three French riders racing for Japanese teams in this event. In total 95 riders from 19 teams are taking part.
Hokkaido is the northernmost of the Japanese islands, sparsely populated and quite mountainous. Making up 21 % of JapanÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s total land mass, it holds just 5 % of the population. The island was until just over 100 years ago populated by the native Aidu, but then the Japanese started to intensify colonization and very few of the indigenous people are now left. Hakodate, where the race starts, was for a long time one of the few Japanese ports open to foreign trade.
The opening event of the tour was a 1.5 km prologue, held on a straight out course on an elevated highway in Hakodate. The stiff head wind and a long, gradual rise combined to make this race much more difficult than the distance would imply. The winner was Takehiro Mizutani, of the powerhouse Nippon Hodo team, followed by Warren Clark (New Zealand) and another Japanese, Susumu Oikawa (Cheblo Artnature). Fourth place went to a Frenchman, Philipe Mauduit, who also races for the Nippon Hodo team.
The Canadian Team riders, who are just starting to find their legs after the long flight the day before all placed within 17 seconds of the winner. The team is made up entirely of Espoir riders, who are using this race for selection and as preparation for the World Championships in October. From Quebec we have Alexandre LavalÃƒÂ©e, Pascal Choquette, Charles Dionne and Alexandre Bernard, as well as Matt Hansen of Ontario. Perplexingly, both Hansen and Bernard were assessed two-second time penalties for "starting earlier than his scheduled time, " though neither they nor those watching had noticed the infractions when they occurred. However, two seconds will not mean very much in a few days.
Tomorrow the real racing will begin, with a 178 km stage over three 2nd category climbs. Rain has started to fall and itÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s supposed to continue all day, and a stiff north wind should be blowing tomorrow. The stage should prove very interesting, and give some indications as to who will be racing well this week.
RESULTS: Prologue and overall
1 T. MIZUTANI (JAP, Nippon Hodo) 2:10.70
2 W. Clark (NZ) at 0:02.59
3 S. Oikawa (JAP, Cheblo Artnature) 0:02.94
4 P. Mauduit (FRA, Nippon Hodo) 0:03.34
5 Min-Soo Park (KOR) 0:04.50
95 starters, 95 finishers
1 Nippon Hodo
3 ACOM RAVANELLO
CANADIAN RIDERS CLASSIFICATION
16 Pascal Choquette 0:10.11
18 Alexandre LavalÃƒÂ©e 0:10.97
26 Charles Dionne 0:13.38
39 Alexandre Bernard 0:15.85
45 Matt Hansen 0:17.02
Manager: Kris Westwood
Mechanic: Bruno Roy
Masseuse: Karine Jaouen
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