Champion System team launched in Beijing, Tour de France is long-term goal
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Champion System team launched in Beijing, Tour de France is long-term goal

by Shane Stokes at 9:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Asian Pro Continental squad wants to be UCI ProTeam in four year’s time

Champion SystemSpeaking at yesterday’s Champion System team presentation in Beijing, general manager Ed Beamon has reiterated that the goal of the squad is to become a UCI ProTeam and to compete in the world’s top race.

“Champion System has always had a passion and commitment to competitive cycling and I think this team represents somewhat a culmination of that dream,” he stated as the 2012 lineup was being presented. “Hopefully, we will take this team to the Tour de France and the World Tour and we’ll carry the hopes and dreams of a lot of Asian and Chinese kids along with it.”

Talking in a long interview with VeloNation in December, Beamon said that the team had an initial five year commitment from Champion System, a sport clothing manufacturer. He pinpointed year four as the aspired entry point to the WorldTour. Before then, the team can try to chase wildcard entries to the Tour and other races before that.

This year’s lineup is a cosmopolitan one, featuring eighteen athletes from ten different countries. It includes competitors from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia and the United States, and is the first ever Pro Continental team from Asia.

“We’re about to embark on a historic journey and it is thanks to Champion System, the Chinese Cycling Association and all our sponsors, especially Fuji,” said Beamon.

“For the first time in the history of the sport there is an opportunity for a group of Asian riders to have the opportunity to race against the best riders in the world all over the world,” he said.

The squad will ride all the major events in Asia, including the Tour of Beijing and Tour de Langkawi. However its goals extend beyond that, with European and American racing also of major importance. In fact, one of the big aims is to bring the Asian riders to tough races outside their normal exposure, this helping their development and growth.

Team sponsor Louis Shih of Champion System said that this was a big reason for his company’s involvement. From day one we have always supported cyclists throughout Asia and now we have decided to take that support to the next level,” he said. “As the owner and title sponsor of the team, we are excited to see our elite athletes compete against the world's top professional cyclists while at the same time developing future Chinese stars in the sport of cycling.”

One of those who will seek to guide the younger, less experienced riders is quadruple Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu. He is now 42 years of age, making him one of the oldest riders in the bunch, but still races well and has a big role in sharing his knowledge.

“It’s not a comeback, it’s another part of my career,” said the Estonian, who has clocked up over 120 UCI victories. “I have a different task.”

Other overseas riders are the Americans Craig Lewis and Chris Butler, who previously raced with the HTC Highroad and BMC Racing teams, the Australian Will Clarke (formerly Leopard Trek), and the Belgian sprinter Gorik Gardeyn.

The eight Asian riders include seven-time continental BMX Champion Steven Wong, Malaysian sprinter Anuar Manan and Chinese champion Xu Gang.

The region is also responsible for the bike sponsor; Fuji will supply its machines to the team, and will play its part in helping the squad grow.

“We have deep, deep roots in Asia,” said sponsorship manager Milay Galvez said. “Working with Champion System is a great opportunity for us as a brand because of our roots, that the team is the first professional continental team in Asia and Champion System is developing technologies like we are.”

One of the first races for the team will be the Tours of Qatar and Oman. Wildcard entries have secured those places, and give an early opportunity for the team to try to impress Tour de France organisers ASO.

Click on an image below to see full launch gallery





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