Tokyo — Veteran Spaniard cyclist Alejandro Valverde clinched the Tour de France’s Saitama Criterium on Sunday, beating Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas. Newly crowned world champion Valverde pipped Thomas and Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro in the race, held just north of Tokyo.
"It was a wonderful race," the 38-year-old Movistar rider told local TV Tokyo.
"I’m happy I was able to participate in this race," he said after finishing the 19-lap race over a 3km course.
Valverde and Thomas were "very fast," said Japan’s Arashiro, who finished third. "But I did my best... I’ll make more efforts for a year again and show people that I can win," he said, adding that he hopes more people will come to watch cycling at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali finished fourth, while German sprinter Marcel Kittel finished sixth.