A motivated Trek-Segafredo team delivers the win in front of passionate fans in Utsunomiya city
John Degenkolb won the Japan Cup Criterium, a thrilling warm-up race held the eve of the Japan Cup and raced around the streets of Utsunomiya city. The short and fast-paced course was lined with cheering and passionate fans, creating an electric atmosphere and energizing the riders.
“Japan is amazing, to win here after such an amazing team effort is just great! Right from the beginning, we took control over the race. I’m so happy to finish a great season with a win and give the team a nice reward for their trust all year long!” gushed Degenkolb minutes after the finish.
A dedicated Trek-Segafredo team controlled the race from the start and the plan was for John Degenkolb to lead out two-time winner of the criterium and home country hero Fumy Beppu, but in the chaotic battle for positioning, Beppu lost Degenkolb’s wheel.
Team Director Yaroslav Popovych said: “Having Fumy (Beppu) at the start makes these races in Japan really special for us. He has won this race in the past and the plan was to go for him today as well, so it was up to us to control the race. We never gave a lot of space to any breakaway and the team worked perfectly well together.”
Eugenio Alafaci and Laurent Didier brought the team to the last corner with 600 meters to go, where Fabio Felline took over to bring Koen de Kort, John Degenkolb and Fumiyuki Beppu into the first positions.
Koen did an amazing lead-out and Dege was the last man to bring Fumy to the finish line. When John saw Fumy had lost his wheel in the chaotic fight for positioning, he decided to keep going, and had enough left, even after his leadout, to sprint across the line for the win.
It may not have been plan A, but the contingency plan was also flawless. Degenkolb was quick to dedicate the win to the team, and Popovych agreed:
“I am very proud of the team today. This can be called a true team victory, everybody did his share and in the end, John finished it off really nicely. Let’s hope we can repeat this tomorrow in the Japan Cup Road Race.”