Synergy-Baku Cycling Project presented with ambition for Azerbaijan
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Synergy-Baku Cycling Project presented with ambition for Azerbaijan

by Ben Atkins at 2:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Langkawi
 
Continental team building towards Azerbaijani participation in Rio 2016 as it makes its debut in Langkawi

Synergy Baku Cycling The new Synergy-Baku Cycling Project presented itself to the World on the eve of the 2013 Tour de Langkawi with the slogan “From Baku with Love.” Despite the fact that the 2.HC-ranked race will be the new team’s debut, its international roster of riders is determined to do more than make up the numbers in a peloton that includes five WorldTour ProTeams. The project has been put together by Irishman David McQuaid, the eldest son of UCI president Pat MacQuaid, in conjunction with the cycling federation of Azerbaijan, with the aim of raising the standard of cycling in the west Asian country.

As well as a raft of riders from a number of more established cycling nations, the team will be directed by recently retired former British champion Jeremy Hunt, Iran's Daryoush Mohammedzadeh, along with Irishman David McCann, who is making the transition between riding professionally and retirement.

"The whole thing has happened pretty quickly,” explained McQuaid. I met the Azeri Federation at the World Championships 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. Really it was a hard 3 months work.

“The Azerbaijan Federation had the idea a year ago, but when we met they were insistent that we do it,” he added. “They want an Azeri rider on the start line at the Rio Olympics in 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.”

Since Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan, the comparisons to the Astana team from Kazakhstan on the other side of the Caspian Sea are obvious. While the Azerbaijani team is currently on a considerably smaller scale than the WorldTour ProTeam, however, the ambition is there to emulate much of its success in the future.

“That’s what [the Azerbaijan Federation] hope, and that’s what we hope,” Hunt explained to VeloNation. “If we do it right - if we’re professional and everything works out right - then I think we’re going to be there.

“Really, my role is to look after the Azerbaijan guys, to make them better bike riders, and hopefully some of them will go to Rio 2016; that’s the whole goal of the team.”

Hunt himself comes on board after having spent two-years at a highly successful national cycling project, in the shape of Team Sky. His role within the British team was vey much a mentoring one, where he rode as team captain on the road, and his new role will be a not dissimilar one to this.

“ Riding with the English guys, and the youngsters, that’s what I enjoyed the most,” Hunt said of his time at the British team. “For me, at the end, it was looking after the young guys; that’s what I enjoy doing, and that’s what I’m doing now.”

Although six of Synergy-Baku’s 6-strong line up is Azerbaijani, none of its home riders will be starting this week’s Tour of Langkawi. The team will instead start with its most experienced riders, with the obvious focus of attention being Malaysian Anuar Manan, who is the only home rider to have won a stage in the race.

The team’s challenge in the general classification will be led by Namibian Dan Craven, Denmark's John Ebsen and Briton David Clarke.

Synergy-Baku Cycling Project team for the Tour de Langkawi
Anuar Manan (MAS), Rico Rogers (NZL), Kirill Pozdnyakov (RUS), Dan Craven (NAM), John Ebsen (DEN), David Clarke (GBR).

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