Craig Lewis flies the flag for Champion System in Tour of Beijing opener
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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Craig Lewis flies the flag for Champion System in Tour of Beijing opener

by Ben Atkins at 11:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Beijing
 
American makes the stage-long break in Honk Kong team’s WorldTour debut

craig lewisCraig Lewis made Champion System’s presence felt in the first ever WorldTour appearance for the Hong Kong-registered team, as he got himself into the break in the opening stage of the Tour of Beijing. The 27-year-old American was part of a five-man group that escaped in the early kilometres of the flat circuit race between Tian An Men Square and the Bird’s Nest Stadium, which managed to stay clear until the penultimate lap.

Lewis broke away with Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Matthieu Lagadnous (FDJ-Big Mat), Bert Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) midway through the 23km leg that the peloton traversed before the start of the twelve 7.8km circuits. They were able to get almost two minutes clear, but were finally reeled in by the sprinters’ teams on the second to last lap.

"We got more time than I thought we would, but I never thought we would make it," Lewis admitted. "There's too many sprinters here, it's the first day and it's only 117 kilometres. So it wasn't hard for them to control."

Nevertheless, Lewis was the last of the five fugitives to wave the white flag; this gave his teammates more time to relax in the peloton, but also meant that the American was able to keep clocking up the kilometres at the heads of races.

"It's kind of funny," said Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon, "because we talked about the importance of getting someone in the break today. I actually told Craig not to go in the break because he's hogging all the break time. But seriously, he's really got a good sense for it right now. He's picking all the right moves."

Stepping up to Professional Continental level in 2012, Champion System Pro Cycling has been eligible for invitations to WorldTour events all year. With most going to team’s of the race organisers’ nationality however, it has taken until the final event of the season for the Asian team to make its debut at the sport’s top level.

Having put Lewis - who is no stranger to the WorldTour, having spent the previous four years at HTC-Highroad - in the break, had Aaron Kemps finish the stage in 23rd place, and had Pengda Jiao take “Best Chinese Rider” honours in the race, Beamon is well pleased so far.

"This is a good start," he said. "It's good to have the opportunity to have a rider in the breakaway on the first day."

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