Through work that my office is assisting with related to a charitable project (the Oranda-jima Foundation) to help the recovery of Yamadamachi in Iwate Prefecture from this year's devastating tsunami, I happened to be at a meeting last week where Jan Remie, the manager of Rabobank's Tokyo branch, and Harada-san, one of the other Rabobank Tokyo executives, mentioned that they were a prime sponsor of the opening event planned for today at the new velodrome in Shuzenji on the Izu Peninsula. I immediately mentioned an interest in attending, and was delighted when Jan said that it might be possible -- as a guest, in the "midfield" seating in the center of the arena. On Thursday this week I was told by Okawa-san of Rabobank that there was a second ticket available, so ended up planning a day in Izu with Jerome.
We drove down, and parked at the new velodrome at the Cycle Sports center.
We hopped on our bikes for the trip down into Shuzenji proper, headed South through central Izu, then East up over Hiekawa Toge (Frozen River Pass!) and down to Ito on the coast -- a delightful road I remember riding with David J., Juliane and MOB back in Golden Week of 2008. Then a quick spin up the coast with wind at our backs, and onto Route 19 for the climb up over the Izu Skyline and part of the way down the western slope to complete the loop back to the velodrome. The weather was spectacular, and even on a ride of less than 50 km, we were able to manage about 1000 meters of climbing.
|Jerome heads up the forested climb to Hiekawa Toge -- no traffic!|
The velodrome is great. The wooden track looks beautiful and very fast, and the building is nice, new, functional, but not over-the-top extravagant. I suspect that Keirin revenues paid for it. After watching the day's festivities, I really want to try to ride on a track.
Thank you, Rabobank, for sponsoring a great event, and for raising money in support of a good cause.
For a cycling fan, this was a dream event. Theo Bos, Olympic silver medalist and five time world champion at various track events, was there.
Late in the day, Mario Cipollini made a surprise appearance, and even raced and won in a team sprint event with Elia Viviani of Liquigas and another Italian rider.
|Cipollini (center) and Viviani (right), in the glare of the spotlights|
Farnese Vini, several of whose Italian riders were in Shuzenji today). 41-year old Shinichi Fukushima, their sempai, won the event.
|Beppu and Arashiro, looking relaxed and happy, post-race.|
|Up close to the competitors and, more important, their track bikes|
And of course, there were the women's races. Did you think Fassa Bortolo quit sponsoring a cycling team? Wrong. They still have a team, just slightly more attractive than the team Koki Nagai used to work for when he was the mechanic working on bicycles for Petacchi, Bartoli and Rumsas.
|Simona Frapporti accepts her victory lei and bouquet|
|Silvia and Simona, who tore up the track today|
|Our hosts, Jan and Miranda Remie|