Trek-Segafredo gets the Japan Cup weekend off to a good start with a win in the criterium.
The Japan Cup is always a special race for Trek-Segafredo, and this year the team delivered another victory in the warmup criterium with Edward Theuns edging out Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) at the line. Last year John Degenkolb won the 38-kilometer criterium – a thrilling warmup race held the eve of the Japan Cup and raced around the streets of Utsunomiya city – and fan-favorite Fumy Beppu took victory two years in a row in 2015 and 2016.
The short and fast hotdog shaped course was lined with cheering and passionate fans, many donned in Trek-Segafredo colors, creating an electric atmosphere and energizing the riders. And though it isn’t on the UCI calendar, when the riders take to the road, their competitiveness takes over, and the action is fierce from the gun.
“It was a really nice criterium with a great atmosphere – a lot of people!” said Theuns. “From the beginning, we rode well in the front as a team. There were some attacks, but we had someone always on the front of the bunch and closing them down.”
A dedicated Trek-Segafredo team controlled the race from the start. The plan was to keep the race together for a sprint, bringing Theuns to the finish to face-off against the fast legs of Colbrelli. On paper, Colbrelli was the favorite, but Theuns got a perfect jump and was able to just hold on for the win.
In the last laps, I was focused on the wheel of Colbrelli. And after the last corner, Fumy came with me, and he did a really great lead out to the finish for me. It was a close sprint – I had to use a good jump!
“In the end, I am super happy because the team did a great job, and it’s a nice win for them in Japan,” added Theuns.
Sunday is the 28th Japan Cup road race, and Bauke Mollema – fresh off his big victory in Lombardy – will look to add to his win from 2015 and make it a perfect weekend for the team.