Tour de France
English only - sorry.
The Tour de France is happening in France right now. This is the most famous bicycle race in the world. It is also probably the most grueling race - covering over 2000 miles in 3 weeks.
The race (and road bicycling in general) has gotten much more popular in the last few years, once Lance Armstrong started winning the race. Now Lance looks like he will win his 7th in a row - something never done before (the most before this was 5 in a row).
Interesting, I don't think there are any Japanese racers competing. Or even any Asian-country racers. There are a few Australians, but that is about as close as it comes.
What makes this more interesting is that one of the two major supplier of bike parts is Shimano, a Japanese company (the other is Italian). And most bicycles sold in the US are made in Taiwan (my new one is made there).
I know there are some Japanese racers in mountain biking, but not many. I am friends with one of the major race promoters in this area, and have worked for him on some of the major races, including the Mountain Bike World Cup races held in Napa. In one race, I was charged with ensuring the racers met the requirements regarding the equipment they used. This meant putting stickers on their bikes before the race, and then after the race checking to make sure the stickers were still there (showing they still had the correct equipment). The challenge, though, is that I have to check the stickers after they cross the finish line, but before they go to rest, clean up, whatever they need to do after the race. One Japanese woman racer was cramping badly as she finished. So as I was scrambling to read the stickers, her legs gave out and she basically fell on me and grabbed on to me to stand up.
So I know for a fact there are some Japanese racers on the mountain bike circuit. I wonder why there aren't any Japanese racers competing in road bicycle races?