Tour de Tochigi 2018: An Exciting Event
with More Potential
(23 March to 25 March '18)
The 2018 edition of Tour de Tochigi started off on Friday, March 23 with a flat and fast prologue in front of approximately 5,000 spectators. Though sunny with daytime temperatures ranging between 9 to 15ºC, (high 40 to high 50ºF) the Watarase Yusuichi (Watarase Reservoir) is a popular destination for windsurfers and sailboating for good reason - it's windy.
With no protection against the strong gusts over the reservoir, 89 riders rode 7.2KM at full speed with Michael Potter (ACA) emerging victorious to take the leader jersey, a full ten seconds ahead of the runner up.
With slightly cloudier conditions, Stage 2 from Oyama Omoinomori in Oyama City to Nikko Daiyagawa Park in Nikko City began in earnest the following day in front of approximately 26,000 spectators. 105KM later, the 20 year old Potter again claimed victory, permitting him to keep the leader jersey for the third and final day.
Now in its 2nd year as a part of the UCI Asia Tour, the Tour de Tochigi (2.2) is a rising star among road cycling races in Japan.
Stage 3 saw 86 riders set off on a 147KM course starting from the Nasu Sports Center then heading south along the Naka River to finish at Igashira Central Park in Moka City. Lured by the spectacular spring weather (sunny, avg. 18ºC), 41,000 spectators watched Raymond Kreder of Team Ukyo sprint to the finish to win the final stage and Potter take the overall win to become the second champion of Tour de Tochigi.
As strange as this may sound, Tour de Tochigi offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore a lesser-known prefecture. Some folks may snort, but Tochigi is actually kind of cool and very much #peakJapan - also, the gyoza!
The Tour de Tochigi website features ideal spots for spectators at each stage, and provides an external link detailing a series of recommendations for tourism/sightseeing and restaurants. The access guide is also useful in understanding where to catch the start and/or finish every day, and it includes a list of nearby parking lots. The catch? It's all in Japanese.
For a UCI event featuring cyclists of which a third or more are from abroad, the lack of English is a shame. With the exception of the race summaries posted in English, there are few signs indicating the Tour is an international-level elite competition. Consequently, those who don't read Japanese and want to follow the Tour next year may have a tough time navigating themselves smoothly from stage to stage.
It's uncertain whether the organizers will increase their efforts in encouraging international spectators and invest in providing event guidance in English in the future. For now, we advise liberal use of Google Chrome's translator - and if you're stuck, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to help!
90 elite road cyclists representing 15 different teams
Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum (Slovenia)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
Hong Kong Sports Institute Pro Cycling Team
LX Cycling Team (Korea)
Australian Cycling Academy - Ride Sunshine Coast
Shimano Racing Team
Aisan Racing Team
Kinan Cycling Team
National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya
Hometown advantage belonged to three teams - the regional Tochigi Select Team, Utsunomiya Blitzen, and Nasu Blasen
2018 Tour de Tochigi Course Map ©2018TdT
Click on Stage link to view course map
To learn more about the Tour de Tochi, visit www.tourdetochigi.com (Japanese only)
About Tochigi Prefecture
Most of us are not deeply familiar with Tochigi Prefecture, but perhaps you've heard of Nikko, Utsunomiya, and Nasu. Located north of Tokyo, Tochigi's capital city Utsunomiya, is about an hour from Tokyo via the Tohoku Shinkansen, or a 2 hour drive.
Approximately 20% of the prefecture's total land area has been designated as natural parks and the Watarase Reservoir (location of the Tour de Tochigi Prologue) is a popular destination for sailboating and windsurfing, as well as cycling events and triathlons.
Known for its ancient Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, Nikko is especially popular among domestic and international tourists interested in viewing some of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage sites. Nasu is a sought-after location for its onsen, as well as local sake breweries and ski resorts. In fact, even the Imperial Family maintains a villa in Nasu.
For the foodies among us, Utsonomiya only recently reclaimed their title of Japan's gyoza consumption capital - with each household spending approximately ¥4,258 (about $40) annually on the pan-fried dumplings.