2019 Japanese National Championships

5 Things to Know from Week 15

It was another action packed weekend in the world of cross. While most eyes were on Essen and Zonhoven because of the absence of Mathieu van der Poel, there was a lot of good racing around the World. For this week, we touch on the final two UCI races in North America, including the Vittoria series, which wrapped up in Rhode Island. We also discuss the Toi Toi Cup and the Copa de España de Ciclocross. Both series have the final round coming up this weekend. Finally, we touch on the Japanese National Championships, which offered five out of the six UCI recognized categories.

Canadians sweep Resolution ‘Cross Cup.

Garland, Texas hosted a pair of UCI C2 races this past weekend at Resolution ‘Cross Cup. This race, as well as the NBX GP of Cross (see the next thing to know) are the final two opportunities for US riders to score UCI points (and race) before next weekend’s National Championships. For the Canadian’s, this is an opportunity for them to score points before heading to Europe before a big block of racing.

Canadian National Champion, Michael van den Ham swept the weekend in the final UCI race (excluding US nats) on North American soil. Jamie Driscoll was second both days, while Cody Cupp finished third both days as well. For Driscoll, it shows he is on form and remains a semi-favorite for Nationals. 

On the women’s side, fellow Canadian National Champion, Maghalie Rochette swept the weekend in Texas. Caroline Noland and Courtenay McFadden finished second and third on Saturday. On Sunday, McFadden finished second, while Canada’s Jenn Jackson finished third. For Rochette, this marks her 12th victory of the season. She won every race she entered in North America, except for two (Waterloo World Cup and FayetteCross, day two).

Vittoria series wraps up at the NBX GP of Cross.

The six round Vittoria series wrapped up this past weekend with a pair of UCI C2 races in Rhode Island. This New England based series is one of only two UCI series in North America. Curtis White has won the men’s overall every year in the series (this is the fourth year), while the women’s side has seen three different winners. Defending champion, Rebecca Fahringer, entered the NBX GP of Cross looking to be the first woman to repeat as champion.

Elite Men

The Elite Men’s races have only seen three riders win the six races. Tobin Ortenblad won the first two rounds, Curtis White won the second two rounds, and Lane Maher picked up a pair of victories at NBX. Both Ortenblad and White only raced the two rounds of the series they won, so Maher was the favorite to win the overall in Rhode Island.

Despite missing the first two rounds, Maher’s two victories gave him the overall. He finished 27 points ahead of Nicholas Lando. Sam Noel finished another 29 points back. 36 riders scored points in the series, but Lando was the only rider who raced in all six rounds. For Noel, this is the second year in a row he has finished third overall. 

Elite Women

Despite missing the first two rounds of the series, Fahringer came in as the heavy favorite to win the weekend and the overall. She did just that. Fahringer went four for four in the series, winning the last four rounds. Lizzy Gunsalus and Rachel Rubino both finished with 114 points behind Fahringer. The tiebreaker came down to finishing position in Sunday’s final round of the series. Gunsalus finished second, giving her the second spot overall.  There were only two riders out of the 33 who scored points who raced all six races. The aforementioned Rubino and Regina Legge. Legge finished fifth overall.

Toi Toi Cup tightens up after penultimate round.

Both the Elite Men and Women’s overall title comes down to the seventh and final round of the Toi Toi Cup in Unicov on Saturday. This past Saturday, Michael Boros extended his lead over Jan Nesvadba with a victory in Jabkenice. Katerina Nash spoiled the party for Pavla Havlikova, who skipped the first round of the series, but rattled off three straight victories to close the gap to Tereza Vanickova.

Elite Men

Like the Superprestige series, the Toi Toi Cup points spread is very tight. There’s basically only a one point difference between places. For each round, the winner gets 50 points, second gets 49, third 48, etc. As a result, the top three are pretty much locked in. However, because Saturday’s race is a C1, there are a lot of non Czech riders in the field who could mix things up.

Michael Boros currently leads the series. Boros is the three-time Czech National Champion, but has never won the Toi Toi Cup overall. He is the only Czech rider to win rounds of the series this year. HIs two victories in Holé Vrchy and Jabkenice helped give him a 12 point lead over Jan Nesvadba. Nesvadba won the series last year and is seven points ahead of Tomas Paprstka, who has won the Toi Toi Cup four times.

Elite Women

The overall for the Elite Women is even closer than the men. Tereza Vanickova leads Tereza Svihalkova by a mere five points. Nikola Bajgerova is in third place, another 12 points back. The women use the same points system as the men, so Bajgerova is pretty much out of contention for the overall. However, places three through seven are only separated by a handful of points, so Sunday’s race will surely shake things up.

Pava Havlikova has won three rounds of the series, but is a distant fifth primarily due to missing the first round. Despite not contending for the overall, Katerina Nash could have a major impact on Sunday’s race. Nash, who currently leads the World Cup, won last weekend’s race and is on the star list for Saturday’s finale. Havlikova finished a close second, while the Tereza’s battled it out for fifth and sixth. As long as they finish inside the top ten, one of them should be able to take home the overall.

The Copa de España de Ciclocross is up for grabs this weekend in Valencia.

The final round of the Spanish Cyclocross Cup takes place this weekend in Valencia. The six race series started with Ziklokross Laudio in October and wraps up Sunday with the Cyclo-Cross Internacional Ciudad de Valencia. The series featured a pair of C1 races, three C2 races and one non UCI race. It’s a very competitive series that features 13 different categories. It includes everything from junior men and women to masters and elite riders.

Elite Men

Despite only winning one round of the series, Ismael Esteban secured the overall victory last weekend in Pontevedra. Consistency has been the key for Esteban. He finished second at the first round in Laudio. He was fifth in round two at Elorrioko Basqueland Ziklokrosa, in what was a very stacked European field. At Cyclo-cross de Karrantza he was a close second once again, this time to Kevin Suarez. Suarez was the biggest threat to Esteban, however, he did not attend the past two rounds of the series. Before winning the fifth round of the series, Esteban was once again second, this time behind Ivan Feijoo.

As of right now, Suarez and Feijoo will not be racing this weekend. Xabier Murias, who is the top U23 rider and currently sits second overall, should be able to maintain his second place spot. Felipe Orts, who is undefeated on home soil, is scheduled to race and should overhaul Feijoo for third place overall.

Elite Women

Unlike the Elite Men, the Elite Women’s title is up for grabs on Sunday. In Ponteverda, Aida Nuño had the opportunity to clinch the overall with a victory and Lucía González finishing fifth place or lower. González and Nuño went toe-to-toe from start to finish. González overtook Nuño in the final corner and was able to sprint to victory.

González skipped round four, but has won three out of the four rounds she has started. It should come as no surprise that Nuño beat her in round three and has finished second behind González twice. With Paula Diaz firmly in third place (and the top U23 rider), it is down to González and Nuño.

As our readers know, math is not our strong suit, but we are going to try. González trails by 11 points. If she wins, Nuño will need to finish in fourth place or lower for González to claim the overall. Nuño hasn’t finished worse than third this season, so it’s a hard task for González to accomplish.

Japanese Nationals offered a full slate of UCI categories.

The 2019 Japanese National Championships took place this past Sunday in Uchiko Town, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. There were categories for the Elite Men and Women, the U23 Men and the Men and Women Juniors. It is one of the 12 races to offer the Women’s Junior category. The only UCI category missing was the U23 Women. Only 11 races offer that category this year.

Elite Men

Kohei Maeda repeated as National Champion in an incredibly close race on Sunday. Five-time National Champion, Yu Takenouchi finished in second place, with Hikaru Kosaka (2017 National Champion) finishing third. There was a four rider lead group heading into the final laps of the race. Kohei Yamamoto (11 time MTB National Champion) was the first to drop off the pace. Kosaka was next to crack, leaving Maeda and Takenouchi alone to battle for the win on the races final lap. In the end, Maeda was able to outsprint Takenouchi and take his second championship. For Takenouchi, this race was another chance to tie Keiichi Tsujiura’s record of six national titles.

Elite Women

19 year old, Rina Matsumoto also picked up her second consecutive elite title on Sunday. Matsumoto, who is known for starting fast, lead the race from start to finish. Aya Akamatsu rolled across the line in second place, 29 seconds behind Matsumoto. 39 year old Miyuki Nishiyama finished third, a whopping 2:05 behind the winner.

U23 Men

Hijri Oda continued the streak of winning a second championship on Sunday in the U23 Men’s race. Oda won the title two years ago in his first season as a U23. He beat last year’s champion, Koutarou Murakami by 2:12. Ren Tsumita, who is in his first year as a U23, finished third, 3:19 behind Oda. Oda will move up to the elite ranks next year and is expected to compete for his first elite title right away.

Men and Women Juniors

Yujiro Murakami out sprinted Issei Matsumoto to pick up the Men’s Junior National Championship in his first year in the category. Raito Suzuki came across the line another 56 seconds later to finish third. Both Matsumoto and Suzuki are in their final year as a junior. The Women’s Junior category became a UCI category this year and was won by Kasuga Watabe. Watabe is in her first year as a junior, while Yui Ishida, who finished second is in her final year. They were the only two riders in the field.

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