Nobeyama 2011 UCI Cyclocross RaceThis Sunday, UCI “shikurokurosu” (cyclocross) returns to Nobeyama, Japan, for the 2011 edition of the Nobeyama Cyclocross Race, presented by Rapha. The event is back after a successful 2010 edition and brings a flyover, a handmade frame expo (featuring such American builders as Hunter, DeSalvo, Retrotec and Independent Fabrication) and Japan’s Singlespeed National Championship to the country’s highest village, at 4,500 feet.

Last year there was a small American presence, and in the UCI C2 men’s event, Japanese Cyclocross national champion Keiichi Tsujiura (as seen in Vernor’s film The Cyclocross Meeting) dominated and fended off visiting American Molly Cameron, who finished in fourth place.

This year, no fewer than eight Americans will attend the Japanese UCI cyclocross race in Nobeyama, with Cameron returning for the men’s race; with Alexandra Burton, Tina Brubraker and Heidi Swift in the women’s race. Additionally, NorCal’s Brian Vernor and Rick Hunter will be racing the Cat 2 event, and Lee Slone and Cyclocross Magazine’s own Andrew Yee racing the singlespeed event (combining a trip to see in-laws with “work.”). See the full start list here.

Think cyclocross racing is an ideal target for sandbaggers looking for an easy victory and an ego boost? Think again. Last week at the Kansai UCI cyclocross race, Cameron finished seventh in the men’s race, 5:47 behind podium racers Tsujiura, Yu Takenouchi and the ageless Masanori Kosaka (49 years old), while Brubaker, Burton and Swift battled to fourth, sixth and ninth, respectively, out of nine behind winner Sakiko Miyauchi. The upside? All earned UCI points for their results.

The same contenders from Kansai are expected to battle for the coveted UCI points, and cold but dry weather is in store for Sunday’s race.

Stay tuned for a full report from the race.

Here’s a Rapha video from last year’s event:

Photos from the 2010 Nobeyama Cyclocross Race by Ichico:

Results from last week’s UCI race in Kansai