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Japanese women’s road race indefinitely postponed over argument about team vehicles

A decision to ban team vehicles from the race was overturned by an arbitration panel and the Japanese federation decided not to hold the event as planned.

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The women’s road race at the Japanese national championships was indefinitely postponed due to an argument over whether team vehicles should be allowed in the race convoy.

The event was due to take place at the Hiroshima Central Forest Park last Saturday, but officials decided not to hold it after a decision to ban team vehicles was overturned by an arbitration process.

Organizers planned to assist riders solely through neutral service vehicles as it deemed it too many vehicles on the, often narrow, route could “pose a danger” to riders. However, former Japanese champion Eri Yonamine appealed the decision, and it was ruled that team cars should be allowed in the race.

Also read: Eri Yonamine is the Japanese pro riding her first major race on home soil

Rather than go ahead with the race, plus the vehicles, the Japanese Cycling Federation chose to indefinitely postpone the event.

“It was judged that the safety of the race, which was the purpose of establishing the special rule, could not be ensured,” a statement on the federation website said. “The organizers of the event have decided that the deletion of this special rule to allow one team car per team would seriously jeopardize the safety of the race. In order to prioritize the safety of athletes, spectators, and other related parties, the JCF has decided not to hold any races related to the above arbitration decision.”

This year was to be the second time that the Japanese national road championships were held at the Hiroshima Central Forest Park.

The men’s event did go ahead with Bahrain-Victorious’ Yukiya Arashiro taking the victory ahead of Yudai Arashiro (not related – ed) of the Kinan Racing Team.

Following the announcement that the women’s race had been postponed, Yonamine issued an emotional statement on her social media.

“I’m so hugely disappointed because the Japanese federation canceled the only women’s national championships. I came back here to get the win, but I couldn’t start. Honestly, I wanted to bring back my national champion’s jersey. I have no words, but my season is still going and I will go back to Europe and refocus my season. There are just no words,” a teary Yonamine said in a Twitter video post.

She elaborated further in an Instagram post on what had happened between herself and the Japanese federation.

“Two weeks ago, This race was not allowed team car so I argued to the federation for permission to [have a] team car in the race because normally we can run a team car. (I think it’s normal argument as a rider.) Of course, the decision by arbitration [was to permit a] team car in according with UCI rules,” Yonamine wrote.

“Absolutely, it’s unnecessary to be canceled like this. Men’s can race because nobody argue to have team car in the race, I guess. Huge disappointment lots of ways. Personally, why only the women’s? Because I argued? Because women’s peloton and women’s team cars have no experience? Of course, there are lots of opinions from each of sides. It’s normal every riders every people have each situation and each position. Some of them might be angry [with] me. Of course, I’m angry too.

“When I started cycling and belonging in Japan Federation, I keep saying to be clear about races and selections because I know riders getting unfair decisions in the past. I really wanted to change it for future. So my coach and I kept fighting to be clear and race according on UCI rules not by domestic special rules because it made riders confused. (Ex. Women can’t have team car, men can. This year can have team car, this year can’t. You can’t be in national team even though [you are] national Champion because I don’t listen. etc…). It’s just ridiculous.

“This time all women can’t race nationals. I feel like this is punishment as a rider. Huge disappointment. This [decision] makes all riders keep quiet and zip mouth because don’t want to be like me.”

In previous editions of the Japanese national championships, women have been banned from having team vehicles within the race while the men were allowed.

Ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, Yonamine won the sole place for Japan in the women’s road events after taking the case to the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency, after the spot was initially given to Mayuko Hagiwara. Yonamine had been removed from the country’s long list after the cycling federation deemed she had ignored team orders at the Asian Championships earlier that year.

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