Champion System's Othman Fourth On Last Stage; Nishizono Top 10 Overall At Tour Of Japan
Tokyo, Japan - Champion System Pro Cycling Team's Adiq Othman sprinted to fourth place on Sunday's final stage of the Tour of Japan while teammate Ryota Nishizono finished sixth overall.
"Without much opportunity to have a large impact on the general classification today, we wanted to concentrate on a good sprint finish for Adiq," Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said. "There are plenty of very fast guys in this year's race, so while he just missed the podium, today's stage showed that he is becoming increasingly competitive."
Othman said missing the podium was a little bittersweet because he was hoping his recent European racing experience would translate into a stage win.
"I came back from Europe with some good experience and I tried to focus my pre-race training on improving speed," Othman said. "I was really focused on winning a stage, but there were some top sprinters here."
Makoto Nakamura (Utsunomiya Blitzen) escaped early on the flat, 112.7-kilometer circuit course around Oi Wharf and built a lead of more than two minutes before the peloton brought him back inside the final 15 km. Immediately, Champion System's Craig Lewis attacked and two riders followed. The trio quickly gained nearly three-and-a-half minutes on the peloton. The other Champion System riders remained vigilant and when Lewis's group was caught inside the final kilometer, they shifted to setting Othman up for the ensuing sprint finish.
"It was nice teamwork from the Champion System riders," Champion System Assistant Director Franky Van Haesebroucke said. "Ryota was leading out Mart (Ojavee) with Adiq on his wheel, setting Adiq up for what was a very fast sprint finish."
Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team) took the stage win while Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo-De Rosa) took the overall win. Nishizono - who was ninth on Stage 3 and fifth on Stage 5 - finished 3:46 behind.
Nishizono - the Japanese national time trial champion - said he had focused his training on peaking at his home country race. Having Champion System put so much support behind him was an additional motivator.
"It was very encouraging to have the team work for me, especially when a rider like Craig Lewis sacrificed himself to get the best possible result for Champion System," Nishizono said. "I was hoping to finish in the top five and just missed that goal, but I am honored to be the best Asian, and of course, the best Japanese rider."
Beamon said with such a high-caliber field at the Tour of Japan, he was pleased with Nishizono's performance.
"Our main goal for the week was to support Ryota at his national race," Beamon said. "This year's tour featured top competition with strong and experienced teams from Europe and Australia. Ryota showed he is ready to race with the best."
Champion System - Asia's first and only pro continental team - had a strong showing throughout the eight-day stage race with Chan Jae Jang wearing the King of the Mountains jersey following Stage 2 and Othman finishing ninth on Stage 2.