The All Japan Business Team Ekiden [New Year Ekiden] will take place on January 1 in seven sections [100 km] starting and ending at Gunma Prefectural Office in Maebashi City. Konica Minolta, dubbed the “21st Century Ekiden Champion”, challenges two major players, Asahi Kasei and Toyota.
It boasts eight victories since 2001, and the number of wins after Asahi Kasei's 24 times, but the 2014 tournament is the last victory. Konica Minolta, who won the qualifying for East Japan in November, is aiming to win for the first time in six years centering on two ace players, Kento Kikuchi  and Gen Hachisuka .
The East Japan qualifier was ordered as ordered by Konica Minolta. District 1 was ranked 14th on the section, but was 18 seconds behind the top, only about 100 meters away, and connected to District 2. After climbing to 6th place in the 2nd ward section for foreigners, Kikuchi showed the 2nd place in the ace section [16.5 km] in 3rd ward and moved up to 2nd place. Hiroyuki Yamamoto  in the fourth ward [33 miles] widened the gap in the fourth ward [9.5 kilometers] and escaped with a section prize. "I was able to win in a condition where it was not perfect. A victory that led to the New Year Ekiden," said Daisuke Isomatsu .
It was great that Kikuchi had increased its strength. After the East Japan qualifying session, he said, "This is my first ace section since joining the company. I was able to run to the New Year Ekiden."
Isomatsu also mentions Kikuchi's name on his site's New Year Ekiden feature page. "Which section of the bike he's going to have will lead directly to the result. Become a captain this season and he's really strong on the Ekiden, so watch him run."
New Year's Ekiden is the longest section of 22.4 km in 4th district. Until now, Kikuchi was more often used in three wards where speed was required than in four wards, but this time it may be used in four wards.
Another candidate in the fourth ward is Hachisuka, who had experienced the fourth ward in the previous tournament [7th in section]. After a breakdown in February, a five-month blank occurred, but Kosa 10 miles [approximately 16 km] on December 1 raised second place 10 seconds behind Hiroshi Ichida [27 = Asahi Kasei]. Have been.
Veteran Yamamoto can also expect a higher section in the main section in 3-5 sections. He finished 12th in the MGC in September, but in the qualifying for East Japan one and a half months later, he made a good run for the section prize as described above. Although it is characterized by sticky running, it has a speed of 27 minutes for 10,000 meters.
Mr. Isomatsu is confident that "3-5 wards are comparable to those of the top two."
In addition, the strength of veterans, including Yamamoto, is the strength of Konica Minolta today. Tsukasa Ugaji , who ran in the 4th ward when he achieved the second consecutive victory in 2013 and 2014, became a coach, but he was in good shape and said, "I want to contribute to the team by running." Director] and the possibility of appointment in production. The 31-year-old Takuya Noguchi also does not feel any decline, such as running second in the anchor section of the East Japan Qualifier.
In New Year's Ekiden, the delay in the first three years has affected the results [17th = 28th, 18th = 24th, 19th = 31st]. If you are strong enough to allow veterans to leave 3rd and 5th wards, you can eliminate delays in the first half by allocating sections with Hachisuka or Yamamoto as the first ward.
Kikuchi and Hachisuka's two aces are growing and veterans are being enhanced. Konica Minolta is ready to return to the legend of Ekiden.