The 42nd Inter High Qualifiers for Chiba prefecture, that took place during the second year from the main storyline events. The event takes place from Ride 275 to Ride 278.
Ace • Ace Assistant • Sprinter • Climber • All-Rounder • Unknown
|Kashiwa Higashi High School|
|Kamogawa High School|
|Keiyou Makuhari School|
|Misato Higashi School|
|Sohoku High School|
|Matsudo Daisan School|
This is Kaburagi Issa's debut race as a member of team Sohoku. He is unexpectedly nervous and suffers from a stomachache. Naruko and Imaizumi talk about Kaburagi as they warm up. Imaizumi points out that Kaburagi probably isn't used to being in a team. Teshima approaches Kaburagi before the race to make sure he is alright, and to ask him what what purpose he races for. Kaburagi laughs and confidently responds that he rides to win. During the pre-race meeting Teshima called, Kaburagi asks Teshima if he can serve as Sohoku's ace during this race, going so far as to say that he doesn't need any support. Teshima agrees to Kaburagi's request, annoying Naruko by doing so.
When the race starts, Kaburagi immediately intends to pull ahead, but something on the road punctures his bike's back tire. The other competitors pass him and he stops, desperately trying to think of a solution. He thinks of returning to the start of the race for a replacement tire, but he is already 2km into the course, so there isn't enough time. Some race officials notice Kaburagi's plight and contact the base for a replacement tire. Kaburagi is left waiting for the manager, Kanzaki Miki, to bring him another tire. Kaburagi is doubled over freaking out about the situation and when he finally looks up he sees that the other members of team Sohoku have stopped as well. He bursts out asking why they stopped during the race, and Imaizumi answers calmly that they are acting as Kaburagi's support in this race since he is the ace. Kaburagi is shocked that they would stop during a race to wait for someone with a punctured tire. He encourages the rest of the team to go on ahead because if they lose this race, they won't make it to the Inter High. Teshima recounts the story of how Onoda waited for Tadokoro during the previous Inter High and successfully caught up to the rest of the team, adding that he believes in the power of riding together as a team. As he finishes saying this, Miki arrives with the replacement tire for Kaburagi's bicycle. Teshima quickly changes the tire just before some of the other teams arrive, having completed their first lap. Team Sohoku begins riding again, and Teshima announces that they should catch up to the other teams.
The other competitors believe that Sohoku is pretty much out of the race because they have fallen a lap behind. Teshima takes one of the water bottles off his bike and tosses it to a cyclist from another team. Teshima says that he plans to take the bottle back in about 9 laps, surprising the competition because this means he plans to catch up. Teshima also pulls out the "tea time" line he used on the first year trio during the previous year's training camp. Teshima tells Aoyagi to pull them away from the rest of the pack, and Sohoku speeds ahead. Imaizumi and Naruko comment that it's been a while since they saw Teshima's scheming side. Teshima explains that his teasing has a purpose; the other racers will cease being united against Sohoku because some will remain confident while others will nervously think that Sohoku may actually catch up. Kaburagi is impressed by Teshima's strategy and composure.
When the other teams try to pass Sohoku, Aoyagi reveals a new technique of his that appears similar to Tadokoro's style. He takes in a lot of air, giving him a burst of speed that surprises Kaburagi. In 9 laps, Sohoku catches up to the leading teams, wowing competitors and spectators alike. Teshima approaches the cyclist he gave his water bottle to earlier, asking for it to be returned. He then tells Kaburagi that it's time for him to do his job. Imaizumi reminds Kaburagi that he is the ace during this race, and therefore has the responsibility of taking the goal. Imaizumi pulls Kaburagi along while Naruko and Onoda encourage him from behind, and Kaburagi crosses the finish line followed by the rest of team Sohoku.
After the Race
Kaburagi is amazed that they managed to win despite being held back by his punctured tire. He basks in the glory of finishing first and thinks that he has strong senpai and that Sohoku is an amazing team. Despite all the encouragement they offered Kaburagi during the race, it turns out that Naruko and Imaizumi weren't satisfied with Kaburagi declaring himself the ace. They both wanted to take first place, and voice their displeasure, leaving Onoda at a loss since he thought they had a good atmosphere going. Naruko comments to Imaizumi that it's the first time in a while that they've been in agreement. Imaizumi suggests that from that day forward, Kaburagi's nickname should be ikiri (hothead), an idea Naruko agrees with. It turns out that Kaburagi heard everything they said, and he thinks that maybe Sohoku isn't as great as he thought it was just moments ago.
Teshima sees that Onoda is surprised at Imaizumi and Naruko's sudden change of heart. He approaches Onoda and tells him that they're the kind of guys who don't want to give up first place to anyone, not even their teammates. Teshima doesn't think that it's a bad thing to 'not get along,' and that not wanting to lose to someone creates a bond. Imaizumi and Naruko use Kaburagi's new nickname when they get their picture taken together. Kaburagi appears affronted and boldly declares that he plans to practice a lot in order to surpass both Imaizumi and Naruko. When some reporters from a cycling magazine ask Kaburagi the same question Teshima asked him before the race- "for what purpose do you ride?"- he answers that he rides for his teammates. Well, he says that's what he thought at the finish line, but he still seems angry at Imaizumi and Naruko. Turning back to look at his teammates, Kaburagi loudly refutes his previous answer and says that the only reason he rides is to win after all.