ASO said to be in talks to host star-studded criterium in city close to Tokyo

Tour de France organisers ASO are planning reportedly celebrate this year’s 100th edition of the world’s biggest annual sporting event by staging a race almost 10,000 kilometres away from Paris, in the Japanese city of Saitama, just north of Tokyo.

According to Channel News Asia, which cited a report in the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the race, a criterium, will be held in October under the Tour de France name. ASO and local authorities in Saitama are said to be close to reaching an agreement, after which a formal announcement will be made.

Saitama is claimed to have the highest levels of bike ownership in Japan – three for every four people – and the initiative, which is planned to become an annual event, reportedly follows the city’s mayor visiting the Tour de France last year.

While post Tour de France criteriums are a long established feature of the late summer in France and elsewhere in Europe, letting the public get up close to the riders and usually following some kind of script – local hero goes up against star sprinter for the win is one typical variation – the planned event in Japan seems to be on a different scale, with a field comprising 50 riders drawn from leading teams.

Although there’s no details of the proposed date as yet, the UCI WorldTour race the Tour of Beijing takes place from 16 to 20 October, so all the top tier teams will have riders in the Far East during the month.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.