Japan sends 14-member cycling team to upcoming Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

Ready for the off: The Japanese team of Ryo Chikatani, Taisei Kobayashi, Eiya Hashimoto and Shogo Ichimaru at last year's Westbury Criterium.

Ready for the off: The Japanese team of Ryo Chikatani, Taisei Kobayashi, Eiya Hashimoto and Shogo Ichimaru at last year's Westbury Criterium.

The upcoming Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals received another huge boost with confirmation that Japan will be represented by a record 14-member cycling team.

The racing squad will be made up of eight women and six men, supported by a mini-army of coaches, managers, masseurs and mechanics.

Most of the line-up will contest all three criteriums – at Westbury, Ulverstone and Burnie – and all track carnivals at Latrobe, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, prompting Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania president Mike Gunson to describe the influx as a “massive coup.”

“This is a fantastic vote of confidence in the carnivals from one of the world’s strongest track cycling nations,” Gunson said.

“At this stage, we are looking at having around 80 cyclists from overseas and interstate competing at the carnivals. Not only are the numbers outstanding, but the quality is excellent.

“We’ve now got teams from New Zealand, Europe, Malaysia and Japan. We will be in a position to announce our top Australian signings next week. The racing promises to be thrilling.”

Three experienced reigning national track champions are in the Japanese men’s squad – Ryo Chikatani (points score), Taisei Kobayashi (omnium) and Minori Shimmura (madison).

However, they may be outshone by gifted youngster Shunsuke Imamura, 2015 world junior points score champion and national titleholder.

Rio Olympian and omnium specialist Sakura Tsukagoshi heads the women’s line-up, backed-up by talented international performers Yumi Kajhara (2016 national omnium champion), Minami Uwano (dual world cup points score silver medallist) and Kisato Nakamura (2016 Asian Games teams pursuit runner-up).

All six members of the Japanese men’s contingent and two of the women will remain in Tasmania for the Hobart Carnival on Sunday, January 8.

Promoters said the Japanese have been exceptionally popular with carnivals’ crowns over the past three years with their skill, tenacity and fierce competitive instincts.

Also, this week, the Burnie Athletic Club celebrated its 130th celebration with 200 guests attending a sell-out celebratory cocktail function at the Burnie Regional Art Gallery.  

2016-17 program:

  • Rosebery Carnival – December 17
  • Westbury Criterium – December 26
  • Latrobe Carnival – December 27
  • Launceston Carnival – December 28
  • Ulverstone Criterium – December 29
  • Devonport Carnival – December 29-30
  • Burnie Criterium – December 31
  • Burnie Carnival – January 1
  • Hobart Carnival – January 8
  • St Helens Carnival – January 21  
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