Craig Lewis and Chris Butler add ProTeam experience to Champion System
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Monday, November 07, 2011

Craig Lewis and Chris Butler add ProTeam experience to Champion System

by Ben Atkins at 1:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Two young Americans to join Chinese based team as it steps up to Professional Continental status

craig lewisThe Chinese-based Champion System team has announced the addition of Americans Craig Lewis and Chris Butler to its roster as it steps up from Continental to Professional Continental status. Both are currently members of WorldTour ProTeams, with Butler at BMC Racing and Lewis one of the last riders from HTC-Highroad to announce his 2012 destination as the team folds.

"Adding a couple Americans to the roster was a goal from the beginning" said Champion System team manager Ed Beamon, "and I'm very happy we were able to secure two incredibly talented and internationally experienced young guys."

In his four years with HTC-Highroad Lewis has ridden the Giro d’Italia twice, coming very close to a stage victory in his debut in 2010. This year’s race spelled disaster for the 26-year-old though, as he – along with teammate Marco Pinotti – was badly injured on the rainy stage to Macugnaga, when they hit a low signpost that was obscured by spray from the road.

A fractured femur and ribs saw Lewis forced to sit out almost all of the remainder of the season, only returning for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in late August. This injury denied him the opportunity of showing himself to the bigger teams that his teammates had as HTC-Highroad wound up.

23-year-old Butler also crashed out of this year’s Giro, which was his debut Grand Tour, with a hairline fracture to his pelvis. His less serious injury allowed him to return sooner than Lewis though, where he rode the Tours of Austria, Poland, and Utah, as well as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the Tour of Beijing.

"Champion System has been a big supporter of USA racing right from the beginning,” said VP of Marketing Charlie Issendorf. “The US is an important market for us and having two of America's brightest young talents representing the CS brand is a natural progression in our support of American competitive cycling."

With the step up to Professional Continental status in 2012, the team should see a bigger race programme than the largely Asian-centric one this year. The rest of the line-up has yet to be announced, but it should include 42-year-old Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu.

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