Hunt and McCann to work together on new Synergy Baku Cycling Project team
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hunt and McCann to work together on new Synergy Baku Cycling Project team

by Shane Stokes at 3:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Manan, Rogers, Craven amongst riders on line-up of Azerbaijani squad

Baku Cycling ProjectFormer Sky professional Jeremy Hunt and multiple Irish champion David McCann will collaborate on the new Synergy Baku Cycling Project team, which is aiming to ride well at Continental level this season.

The Azerbaijani team will be Hunt’s new focus after retiring last season after a seventeen year professional career. McCann is also quitting the bike, although he is expected to ride some events this year with the team. “I'm down as a rider but more in a leading / teaching role than anything,” he told VeloNation.

In that sense his role may be similar to that played by Robbie McEwen in his last year in the pro bunch in 2012. He raced alongside his Orica GreenEdge team-mates until the Tour of California, then hung up his wheels and gave them advice from the team car.

Hunt had anticipated a break from the sport, but then the team came along. “I really didn't think that I would be back in cycling so soon after my retirement, but when I was offered the Baku Racing Project role, it was too good an opportunity to be missed,” he said.

“Working with young athletes and helping them to achieve their goals and become professional bike riders is what I enjoy. A hands on job is doesn't scare me. It was myself that suggested to take the six Azeri riders to my base in Melbourne and train and test them, to make them suffer and ultimately get them into the best shape of their cycling lives before the Tour de Azerbaijan at the start of May. That ultimately is a huge goal for the team.”

The team will feature former Tour de Langkawi points jersey winner Anuar Manan (Malaysia), who is moving across after a year with the Champion System team, as well as fellow gallopers Rico Rogers (New Zealand) and Christoph Schweizer (Germany), the climbers Dave Clark (Britain) and John Kronborg Ebsen (Denmark), 2012 Olympian Dan Craven (Namibia), Conor McConvey (Ireland), Kirill Pozdnyakov (Russia), Oleksandr Surutkovich (Ukraine) and the Azerbaijani sextet of Elchin Asadov, Tural Isgandarov, Elvin Naghiyev, Ruslan Mustafayev, Aqshin Ismayilov and Samir Cebrayilov.

McCann had looked to get into a coaching role post career and sees this as a perfect way to develop that. “I couldn't really turn it down, to be honest. This is what I like,” he said. “And the developmental side apart, I’m really looking forward to racing on the UCI Asia Tour where the team will spend the first half of the season, as I can lend my knowledge and experience.”

He confirmed that the team will debut at a high level. “I’m looking forward to working with Ebsen and McConvey for GC as both are pure, strong climbers. The Tour de Langkawi could be interesting, as it's our first race also.”

The team is linked to both the past and the future, according to its launch communication. “Thirty-five years after Alexander Averin from Baku won the Peace Race & took the points jersey in the Tour de L'Avenir, the capital city Baku will put Azerbaijan back to the fore of international cycling with the Synergy - Baku Cycling Project,” it said.

“With plans under way to build an Olympic Velodrome and Bicycle Park as part of the “Baku White City” plan, the projects international face will be Baku Cycling Project racing team.”

Baku has tried twice to be considered for the Olympics, but has been overlooked in bids for the 2016 and 2020 Games. It is considering bidding for the 2024 edition. However as technical director David McQuaid explained, there could be a link to a Games before then.

“The Azerbaijan Federation had the idea a year ago, but when we met they were insistent that we do it,” he said. “They want an Azeri rider on the start line in Rio 2016. We decided to call the team a project, because that’s what it is. It's to re-ignite cycling in Azerbaijan and produce some quality riders doing it.

“The whole thing has happened pretty quickly,” he continued. “I met the Azeri Federation at the Worlds in Valkenburg, visited Baku in October, had Jeremy and David in place in November, riders in place soon after and registration documents done and dusted at the beginning of December. They are in the hands of the Road Department of the UCI now.”

The team’s race programme post-Langkawi is yet to be announced. Manan will be a big focus at the Malaysian race, given his popularity in the country and past success in the event.

Synergy Baku Cycling Project:

Anuar Manan, 26 (Mal)
Rico Rogers, 34 (NZL)
Dave Clark, 33 (GBR)
John Kronborg Ebsen, 24 (Dan)
Dan Craven, 29 (Nam)
Conor McConvey, 24 (Irl)
Christoph Schweizer, 26 (Ger)
Kirill Pozdnyakov, 23 (Rus)
David Mc Cann, 39 (Irl)
Oleksandr Surutkovich, 28 (Ukr)
Elchin Asadov, 25 (Aze)
Tural Isgandarov, 20 (Aze)
Elvin Naghiyev, 23 (Aze)
Ruslan Mustafayev, 25 (Aze)
Aqshin Ismayilov, 25 (Aze)
Samir Cebrayilov, 18 (Aze)

Sporting director: Jeremy Hunt
Directeur: Daryoush Mohammedzadeh
Team captain/performance analyst: David McCann
Technical director: David McQuaid


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