Schleck, Bennati and King on RadioShack Nissan team for Tour of Beijing
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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Schleck, Bennati and King on RadioShack Nissan team for Tour of Beijing

by VeloNation Press at 9:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Beijing
 
Champion System team to make WorldTour debut in race

Daniele BennatiAs confirmed yesterday, Andy Schleck’s withdrawal from the Binche-Tournai-Binche/Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke has not interfered with his plans to ride the Tour of Beijing. The race organisers have today announced his participation, as well as naming the lineup of the Radioshack Nissan team.

“The last week I have done a lot of training in Luxembourg, I’m ready and motivated for the Tour of Beijing,” he said.

“The weather will be better than in Luxembourg in October and I need to finish the 2012 season on a positive note.”

Schleck was out of racing for over three months due to a bad crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné, but is sufficiently recovered to race now.

While he is the biggest name, another has been named as the protected rider. “Our leader will be Daniele Bennati [pictured]. He is able to win one or more stages,” said team director José Azevedo.

Last month the Italian sprinter raised his career Vuelta a España stage wins to six, and is determined to keep winning.

“I’m finishing this season in good shape and after the Vuelta my condition remains great,” he said. “I saw that in Piemonte last week. I’m not tired yet and more than motivated. I want to finish the season with an extra victory as a thank you to the team for the last two seasons.”

The race begins next Thursday and runs for five days. Former USA national champ Ben King rode well last time round and will return again; the squad will be completed by Jan Bakelants, George Bennett, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent and Haimar Zubeldia.

Azevedo believes that the team has several options for final victory. “Last year the overall winner was decided after two days because of the early individual time trial and uphill finish. Now the race looks well balanced and with Jan Bakelants, George Bennett and Haimar Zubeldia we have three riders to contest the General Classification category,” he said. “The five-six K climbs are perfect for them.”

Meanwhile the Champion System team has been given an invite to the race, and will consequently ride at the WorldTour level for the first time. It will fill the place left vacant by the decision by the Chinese Cycling Association not to enter a national team this time round.

“One of the primary reasons the Champion System Pro Cycling Team was formed was to be able to bring China's top cycling talents together to represent their country and their provinces in Asia's most prestigious event and, eventually, in the biggest competitions around the world,” stated Champion System’s general manager Edward Beamon in response.

“We are grateful for the diligent work and cooperation between the GCP and the local organising committee that has enabled us to compete in the 2012 Tour of Beijing."

The team will field four Chinese riders, namely current and five-time national champion Gang Xu, Biao Liu, Kun Jiang and Pengda Jiao, the American duo Craig Lewis and Chris Butler, as well as the Australian Aaron Kemps and the Kiwi Clinton Avery.

“It is a great honor to represent my Country as the National Champion in our biggest race. This is the most exciting event of the season for me and for my team,” said Xu.

Jiang rode last year and secured the most aggressive rider award on stage two. “The 2011 Tour of Beijing was very exciting race for me, and gave me motivation to continue as a professional,” he enthused.

“I like to be aggressive and hope I can be in an escape again this year.

American Butler is also keen to return. “I participated in the 2011 Tour of Beijing and it was the most fun I had at an event last year,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to coming back with the Champion System Team and excited to see the more challenging parcours this year.”

2012 Tour of Beijing:

Radioshack Nissan Trek: Jan Bakelants, Daniele Bennati, George Bennett, Benjamin King, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent, Andy Schleck, Haimar Zubeldia

Champion System Pro Cycling Team:
Gang Xu, Biao Liu, Kun Jiang, Pengda Jiao, Clinton Avery, Chris Butler, Aaron Kemps, Craig Lewis

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