In the long rides on the mountains, Hakone pulls up their trump card at the most unexpected moment. The kings must let go of another member of the team, it is their captain and ace sprinter, Izumida Touichiro.
Hakone’s Trump Card
Tied in a decisive race against Hakone in 4 against 5 situations, Sohoku is still eager and excited to catch up and conquer the mountains. A few surprise attacks from Hakone cannot break the spirit and stamina of Teshima and his members. Even at this critical moment, Naruko is still proclaiming his promise with Onoda and Imaizumi last year, which is three of them hitting the finish line together.
In the middle of this heartwarming conversation, Teshima suddenly realizes that he misinterprets the situation. In the previous episode, we see a surprising sight where Izumida who is a sprinter is still climbing along with his teammates. Apparently, it is a strategy made by Kuroda on the previous day. By utilizing 2.5 kilometers of flats on the mountain roads, Izumida moves to the front of the pack and pulls his team to widen the gap between Sohoku and Hakone.
Normally the short flats on the mountains are used for resting legs, but that is not the way how Hakone is thinking. Kuroda instructed Izumida to seize the flats as an opportunity to accelerate even faster in the climb, and thus now Izumida as the puller of the team prepares himself for one last run.
Izumida unleashes a technique that he has kept for the three days of Inter-High, a technique called Final Muscles where he optimizes muscles on his chest which he named Andy and Frank, his back which he named Fabian, and both of his quads which he named Mark and Frank. With all of his muscles supporting his pedal, Izumida accelerates even faster than ever like a spear of lightning and leaves the pack of Sohoku behind until his team is lost from Sohoku’s sight.
A Captain’s Wish
By the time Izumida is unleashing his secret technique, he reminisces about his three-year journey as a member of the Hakone Bicycle Racing Club and his memories with his close friends, Ashikiba and Kuroda. He thanks everyone who has brought him that far while understanding that this sprint will be his last duty and his last run in the Inter-High.
Finally, at the end of the roads that shift from flats to climb, Izumida drops himself out of the pack while screaming from the bottom of his heart to his teammates to take the jersey of Hakone to the finish line. Izumida’s legs cease pedaling while his teammates are finally lost from his sight.
Sohoku’s Undying Spirits
Sohoku who is late to realize and react to Hakone’s surprising action now must catch up to 700 meters in order to overtake the lead pack. Another cornering situation must be faced by Sohoku, yet despite this difficulty, the second-years are calm and enthusiastic to catch up to Hakone who is already nearly 1 kilometer ahead of them.
Teshima is stunned by the strong will and optimism of his juniors, he only heard it from Kinjou as their previous team captain until he finally witnesses and feels the spirit of his juniors by himself in this year’s Inter-High. With undying hope and ambition, Sohoku is entering the climbs by being pulled by Onoda the King of Mountains.
After a few kilometers, Naruko is switching Onoda’s position to pull the team since he is now an all-rounder. The Naniwa Speedstar’s speed exploded while carrying his teammates on the climb. At the back of the pack, we see Teshima who rides behind Onoda apologizing for his orders for the final day of Inter-High. Turns out before the race began, Teshima instructed Onoda to step down from being the ace climber in the last of Inter-High.
Who would’ve thought that the captain of Hakone would step down from his pack afar from the finish line? As a captain and top sprinter, Izumida thinks about his team and jersey even more than himself, he is willing to sacrifice himself to bring major advantage to the remaining Hakone members.
On the other hand, witnessing the optimism and eagerness of Sohoku members is always pleasing and inspiring. Their ambition to not stay behind and lose despite the situation is the main strength of this team. Now with the burning spirits of the second-years, we will see how Sohoku is able to match Hakone’s speed, anticipate Kyofushi’s strategy, and overcome the crisis with the orders that make Onoda step down from being ace climber for the team.