By Miwako Sasaki
After the European season finishes, the 14th Japan Cup will be held on October 23 in the far east. It is the only top class one day race in Japan, and for Japanese fans, it's a rare chance to see the European riders. But this year, only four Pro Teams (Quickstep, Lampre - Caffita, Saunier Duval-Prodir and Illes Balears) will come to the Japan Cup, as a result of the changes in the UCI calendar.
The race has become a 1.1 category one day race as part of the new UCI Asia Tour this year, and the participation rules have been changed. Six top European trade teams came to the Japan Cup up until last year, but it has decreased to four. Dutch professional continental team Shimano-Memory Corp also will participate the race, but the team will be made up of Japanese riders.
The change also influences Japanese local teams. Only UCI registered teams (Asia Tour Continental Teams) can participate in the Japan Cup, therefore only five Japanese teams (Bridgestone-Anchor, Team Nippo, Kinan-CCD, Sumita Ravanello-Pearl Izumi and Miyata Subaru Racing Team) will start the race, and one Japanese national team will be formed too.
Not many European riders, not many Japanese riders, but a new wind will blow in the race. For the first time, seven Asian national teams will be invited to the Japan Cup. Although it isn't confirmed yet which countries will be invited, the organiser said 90 riders from various countries will compete in Japan's Autumn race.