Yukiya Arashiro wins Saitama Criterium

The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM made quite some headlines at the end of the season: In Japan Yukiya Arashiro managed to win the Saitama Criterium for the first time. And with the signing of Mark Cavendish the team scored a veritable coup on the transfer market.

The Saitama Criterium may not be an official UCI team, but year after year the invitational race in Japan boasts an impressive list of starters. This year’s edition was no exception as two Grand Tour winners were competing with Egan Bernal and Primoz Roglic. Other notable names lining up for the race were the likes of Matteo Trentin, Jakob Fuglsang, Romain Bardet, Oliver Naesen and Luka Mezgec. Yukiya Arashiro had to do without the support of team mates but was racing in the colours of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. He had been animating this race in year’s past, and with a duration of less than one and a half hours and a circuit of 3.5 kilometers length, the Saitama Criterium has the right ingredients for spectacular racing.

Yukiya Arashiro was racing aggressively this year as well, and as a consequence he was part of the decisive move with 16 kilometers to go. After Bernal and Roglic bridged the gap to the lead group, Arashiro launched another attack with five kilometers to go. He managed to build enough of a gap to enjoy and celebrate his win along the finishing straight of the Saitama Criterium to the full. Bernal and Roglic managed to close the gap, but the Japanese rider of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM kept things under control and rode to a much celebrated win on home turf. By doing so he capped off a season on a high that had been overshadowed by a serious crash-related injury.

As for the Tour of Guanxi as the final World Tour race held in China, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM was aiming for results in the bunch sprints with Phil Bauhaus. But the young German had to settle for two 4th places and got relegated by the race jury in another stage for swerving off his race line. Local hero Meiyin Wang made it into lead groups twice but got caught well before the finish. And Andrea Garosio as the rider for the overall standings had to settle for 27th place despite conceding just a bit over one and a half minutes to the race’s overall winner. Thus this final stage race of the season could not be considered a success from the team’s perspective..

On the transfer market the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM mad headlines however: Having already signed Mikel Landa and Wout Poels and Rod Ellingworth as its new team principal, the team scored a veritable transfer coup by signing Mark Cavendish. After all the World champion of 2011 and winner of 30 Tour de France stages is considered as on of the strongest sprinters of the last decade. The team has also extended its depth for the coming seasons by signing the likes of Pello Bilbao, Rafa Valls, Eros Capecchi and Marco Haller. With Scott Davies and Kevin Inkelaar, there is no lack in talent either regarding the team’s new signings.

1. Yukiya Arashiro, Jap/Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team, In 1:22.16 Hours
2. Egan Bernal, COL, st
3. Primoz Roglic, SLO, st

Photo Mark Cavendis © McLaren 2019