By Nigel Wynn
Amaury Sport Organisation, organiser of the Tour de France, will run a criterium race in Saitama, Japan, on October 26 - logically called the 'Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France'.
The race will consist of laps of a 2.7-kilometre circuit in Saitama city centre. A total of 60 riders will take part, with 30 hailing from Japan and 30 from an international field - which ASO hopes will include recent Tour stage winners and classification leaders.
"Enhancing the standing of the Tour de France throughout the world is a major objective for ASO and we are proud to observe the enthusiasm already generated by the creation of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, so far from the homeland of the world's biggest cycling event," said ASO president Jean-Etienne Amaury.
Japan currently has two Tour de France veterans in the peloton - Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge) and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar). Both riders made their Tour debut in 2009.
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