In order for teams to advance to the Inter High, they must win the Inter High Qualifiers that take place in their prefecture.
Year 1 EventEdit
The Inter High Qualifiers for Chiba prefecture, where Sohoku High School is located, took place in Anesaki Industrial Park during Onoda's first year of high school. The event takes place in Ride 38 and Ride 39. The third-years do not inform the first-years about their participation in this race, but Imaizumi overhears second-year Koga talking about it and decides to tell Onoda, Naruko, and Sugimoto. Sugimoto chooses to stay behind in class, so the other three bike about 20-30km to where the qualifiers are being held. As there was no training that day, Onoda only brought his city bike to school, so the others draft him so he could keep up. The men's qualifiers are held on a 5km course, and the goal is 10 laps, making the race a total of 50km long.
When the first years arrive during the 8th lap, team Sohoku is trailing behind the two lead teams, Kashiwa East and Makuhari Keiyou. However, after seeing the first-years (which doesn't surprise them at all and in fact expected them to show up), they pick up their pace. As the third-years pass by, Tadokoro tells Naruko to watch them, because they will beat the lead team with one minute to spare. Tadokoro pulls Makishima and Kinjou along in the slipstream created by his cycling, allowing them to easily pass the other teams. As promised, the third-years pull ahead of Kashiwa East and Makuhari in one lap, creating a one minute lead. Seeing the third-years' accomplishments motivates Imaizumi and Naruko to train harder in order to beat them. When questioned why the first-years weren't invited to the qualifiers, Kinjou reveals that this way, scouts and competitors are lead to believe that Sohoku is a small, dying team. Kinjou considers the new members as 'secret weapons' of sorts, with no data for opponents to research on.
Year 2 EventEdit
The Inter High Qualifiers that took place during Onoda's second year of high school lasted from Ride 275 to Ride 278.
Second Year Events
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.
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.