A Japanese adventurer who eight years ago became the second youngest man to complete mountaineering’s Seven Summits challenge has been killed in north western Russia while undertaking a long-distance bike ride that took him close to the Arctic Circle in the depths of winter.
Haruhisa Watanabe, aged 31, died from multiple injuries sustained when he was struck by a car on Wednesday on the Kola Peninsula in north western Russia, around 300 kilometres from Murmansk.
According to the Italian news website, Quotidiano.net, local sources believe that poor visibility combined with the harsh winter conditions experienced in the region, where temperatures at this time of year are around 20 degrees below Celsius and the sun does not rise for weeks on end, were factors in the incident.
The website adds that initially there was confusion about the identity of the cyclist who had been killed, but the Japanese embassy in Moscow has confirmed that documentation found on his body including a passport revealed that it was Watanabe.
In 2004, at the age of 22, Watanabe became the second youngest person at that point to complete the Seven Summits challenge, which involves scaling the highest peaks on all seven continents, including Mount Everest in Asia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mount McKinley in North Africa.
He also reportedly held the record for the quickest descent by bike from the peak of Mount Fuji in his native country, Japan, where his exploits had made him famous.
What would be his final journey began in June when he rode across China and Central Asia, including Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Turkey, before crossing the Black Sea to Russia and heading north towards the Arctic.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.