The episode starts by recapping to when Naruko joins up with Imaizumi and Onoda at the front. It’s emphasized that even though he has caught up to them, Naruko already knows that he likely won’t have the energy to make it to the finish line with the others. As they ride, we see that Naruko is starting to lose his vision due to lack of oxygen, which is the exact same thing that happened to him during the Inter-High the previous year. However, he decides not to tell his teammates about it and tries to keep going.

As the three of them are getting closer to the end of the downhill and approaching the next climb, Kuroda and Manami work at catching up to them. Since Kuroda’s strength is downhills, this puts Sohoku in a tight spot. A bit of the episode sees the three Sohoku riders and the two Hakone Academy riders trying to be at the front, because whoever is in the lead when they reach the next climb has an advantage on maintaining the lead on the climb.

Unfortunately, things become complicated when Midousuji also catches up to all five of them on the downhill. Midousuji is going at an incredibly fast speed and is able to pass Kuroda and Manami rather easily. In order to stay in front of them and get closer to the three Sohoku riders at the front, Midousuji has to do something rather risky on a turn… and it actually works. But considering what we’ve seen from Midousuji in the past, as well as the thoughts of his we hear as he’s racing, this risk makes a lot of sense for him.

Then the battle turns into Sohoku versus Midousuji. Unfortunately, Naruko’s diminished eyesight causes him to miss a bump in the road, and this stuns his teammates so much that Midousuji pulls ahead and gains a major lead when he starts into the climb. Right at the end of the episode, Imaizumi and Onoda realize what’s going on with Naruko’s eyesight. Naruko volunteers to pull the other two to catch up to Midousuji, but the other two realize what’s going to happen if he does this. This is how the episode ends, and the stage is being set for Naruko to make a sacrifice for his team. I don’t feel like saying this is really a spoiler, since if you watch until the end of the episode, the title that appears for the next episode makes it clear that Naruko and his sacrifice are going to be the focus of it.

The pacing of the race is really starting to pick up momentum now, and I think the fact that we’re going to have two weeks of two episodes each is helping to accentuate the increased momentum. There may still be the majority of the cour left and only 5.5 km left in the actual race, but I think that this cour is going to be an exciting watch. I can’t wait to see the remaining episodes over the coming weeks to find out if I’m right.

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