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'Cultural discovery' for Froome and Sagan in Japan

Kimonos and rice cakes for riders ahead of the annual end-of-season Saitama criterium.

Josh Cunningham
28 Oct 2016

The Saitama criterium in Japan has, since its inception in 2013, provided a traditional end-of-season get together for some of the biggest names in the sport, and a slightly bizarre spectacle with the preceding cultural activities they're made to do. 

In the past riders have been put through their paces in the sumo wrestling pit, tried their hand at archery, and taken on train journeys through the Japanese countryside. This year the riders were actors in a staged traditional marriage and dressed in the appropriate garb for the occasion, with Romain Bardet, Marcel Kittel, Adam Yates, Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan wearing kimonos usually reserved for ministers, while Chris Froome being granted a Noshi kimono usually reserved for the Emperor of Japan. Most curious.

Froome apparently "felt a real pressure... not even Obama got to wear a kimono like [it]."

After that the riders were taken to the kitchen to cook some mochi cakes, which is a traditional rice dough dish usually served on New Year's Day. "I've never eaten anything like it in my life," said Marcel Kittel. "But it's actually lovely."

There is a race amid all of this somewhere too. We think it's tomorrow, although we're not sure if the riders will be wearing kimonos or not.