Interview with Cyclist and Olympian Kohei Uchima

  • By Clarence

One of the biggest cycling races in Japan, the Niseko Classic is happening this 14 - 16 June. An annual road race held on public roads and a qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, people come from different parts of the world to participate in this race. Kohei Uchima is one of them. A professional cyclist and Olympian, he participated in the Niseko Classic event for the first time last year and he’s back again for this year’s race, better prepared than ever.

We had the opportunity to talk with him about his Niseko Classic experience and his decision to come back and stay with us again this year.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

The bicycle was my means of transportation when I used to go fishing. I’ve always enjoyed cycling long distances. I entered the world of road racing when I participated in the Tour de Okinawa.In 2016, I represented Japan in the Olympics Road Race event at Rio de Janeiro. After retiring in 2020, I am now working as a cycling guide.

What was your experience like participating in last year’s Niseko Classic Race for the first time? Was it more difficult than expected?

I have cycled around the Niseko area several times during my time as an athlete. However, I wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery or the smell of the forest while cycling, unlike this time. It was exciting.

What part of the race week did you enjoy the most?

It was a lot of fun conditioning myself for the race and enjoying Hokkaido with my family.

What do you think about this year’s race? Are preparations going well?

Compared to last year, I am much more prepared this time. I think I’ll be able to enjoy the race even more now!

Can you tell us about your goals for this year’s race?

At the very least, to always be safe. My goal is to fully enjoy this year’s race.

How was your experience staying with us last year? What did you like about your stay?

There is bicycle parking in the basement so when I flew in with my bike in a case, I was able to assemble my bike without any worries even if it was raining. Breakfast was also served from 4:00 on the day of the race. Gaining energy from all the tasty food and a boost of motivation for the race from the delicious espresso was the best.

Would you recommend racers to stay in Setsu Niseko? What are the good points of staying with us?

The hotel is close to the race’s start/finish line so you can just wait at the hotel just before the race starts. Also before the race, you have to be present at the venue to have your chip checked but you can easily go back to the hotel after that so it was convenient. It was also nice seeing the hotel staff welcome us back at the hotel soon after finishing the race.

We are looking forward to welcoming you again at Setsu Niseko. What are you looking forward to most coming back to Niseko?

Humidity in Okinawa is high during the rainy season, so I am really looking forward to experiencing the difference in the air when I visit Niseko. I also want to eat ice cream while walking!

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