Mikuni Pass: Where dreams will come true (and be shattered) in 2020

I just got back from a business/family/cycling trip to Japan and rode a little bit of the final of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Men’s Road Race course near Mount Fuji. Here are a couple of lovely views of Fuji-san, really common in the clear air of winter, but a virtual miracle in summer, when the race will take place.

2018-12-20 11.34.26

2018-12-20 12.13.28

2018-12-20 13.09.17

The first photo is on a descent to Lake Yamanaka. Yamanaka-ko is a beautiful-but-cheesy place of fine views and pedal boats shaped like swans, but the riders who are left at the front of the race at this point won’t care all that much, I’d suspect, because they will have only one little climb left before descending to the finish line at Fuji International Speedway, right on the flank of Mt. Fuji.

Capture

Capture

What comes before the descent above will surely see the selection made in this race. You can see the climb of Mikuni Pass (三国峠) near the end of the profile above. Here are the stats on this little monster.

  • Distance: 6.8 km
  • Elev Gain: 708 m
  • Elev Change: 710 m
  • Avg Grade: 10.4 %
  • Max Grade: 17.9 %

I beg to differ with these numbers because I definitely saw 21% somewhere in the middle, and the 10.4% is misleading because for several kilometers I don’t remember anything under 12%. My climb of Mikuni Pass could have been done faster by walking, I’m sure, and my only saving grace on the day was that there was nobody on the road to witness how pathetic I looked.

The pros will do much better, I’m sure, and I for one am sad that we won’t see Peter Sagan win an Olympic Gold…yet. This climb is just too long and steep for him, unless he transforms himself into someone like Valverde or Alaphilippe. My very amateur guess is that this finish will bring out the likes of riders we saw at the Worlds last year in Austria, when Woods, Valverde and Bardet were the only ones left at the top.

Here are my Strava details from my ride that day. It was a pretty impressive ride, considering I mostly stayed on the right side (i.e. ‘left’) of the road and made it home alive.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2026167720/embed/6454eb322e9990c3daa0df1ffdd0e535f8e237ae

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