2013 Champion System Team Presentation
By Kevin Hunter
For years cycling has been one of the top amateur and professional sports in the world. It has produced some of the world’s greatest athletes, but the sport has had very little to no impact in one of the most populous regions in the world – Asia.
That is until now.
Enter Champion System. The custom technical apparel company decided to break some barriers last year by becoming the first company to form a cycling team made up of predominately Asian cyclists and based in Asia. The Champion System Professional Cycling Team competes in major UCI tours throughout Asia, Europe and North America. It’s goal is to promote the sport of cycling and develop Olympic and world class riders from all over Asia, as well as other parts of the world, including the United States.
The Champion System Pro Cycling Team had a coming out party of sorts as the entire team and organization was introduced at an event on Jan. 11 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. There was plenty of optimism and enthusiasm all around, because also on hand were numerous dignitaries from various Asian countries excited to see the unveiling of this ground-breaking team.
Team Manager Edward Beamon has years of experience in running some of the best cycling teams in the world, and handpicked each member of the Champion System Pro Cycling Team. He said that putting together the first Asian-based team all started a few years ago when he had a conversation with one of the top executives of Champions System.
“When I first met with [Executive Director] Louis Shih in about 2006,” said Beamon, “he said that one of his goals with the company was to develop an Asian team. He said that he wanted to see these guys in Asia have the same opportunities that others in North American, the Southern Hemisphere and Europe have. And since then we’ve worked very hard to meet his goals.”
Some of the Asian riders on the Champion System Team said that it was only a matter of time before there was an Asian-based team. 2010 National Road Champion Wang Yip Tang, 28, of Hong Kong said through an interpreter that one of the many reasons there has not been a team in Asia in the past has been due to a lack of interest and sponsorship.
“In the past there wasn’t much of a great response from companies and potential sponsors,” said Tang. “They just didn’t realize the payback from having a cycling team. I think they’re beginning to see that now with Champion System and how dedicated they are and the great interest from the owners. I can see not only more interest coming from Asian cyclists, but I think you may see more companies coming on board and maybe forming other teams in Asia.”
Not only is Champion System Pro Cycling Team a pioneering team by being the first Asian-based professional cycling team, it also boasts as the world’s most diverse teams. There are a total of 14 nations represented, including six from Asia, five from Europe, two from North America and New Zealand. There are five current national champions (15 total), two former world champions and two former Olympians.
Chris Butler, 24, is one of three riders from the U.S. on the team and is a three-time NCAA National Champion out of Furman University. The climbing specialist whose best results so far were a couple of sixth place stage finishes in 2011 at the Tour of Austria and Tour of Hainan, said that he relishes the opportunity to be a part of Champion System and that he’s in it for the long haul.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Butler, “because it gives me a chance to ride with some great people and compete in some of the biggest races and the best competition in the world. I think this team will allow me to grow and progress as a cyclist and for me to get some my best results.”
In forming the first Asian-based cycling team and competing against the best from all over the world, organizers know that success won’t come overnight. Some estimate that it may be between five to ten years before there is some dramatic development.
But so far Champion System has made some great strides and is showing the world that the first team based out of Asia has a great future and will be able to compete with the big boys. In its inaugural season in 2012, it notched first places finishes as a team at the Tour of Fuzhou, a Stage 2 first place finishes at the Tour Down Under and the Tour de Beauce, and was first at the Base Camp International.
As far as the future growth and development of the Champion System Team, Beamon said he is happy and proud of how diverse Champion System is, but noted that the emphasis will be on recruiting more cyclists from Asian countries.
“First and foremost, we are looking for the right personalities for this team no matter where they are from,” said Beamon. “But we do want our focus to be predominately in Asia, because we want to provide more opportunities for Asian cyclists and to see the sport grow more in Asian countries. We do believe that in a few years this team will be able to compete with some of the best teams in the world.”
2013 Champion System Pro Cycling Team Roster
Zachary Bell (Canada) Former World Champion and National Team Member
Clinton Avery (New Zealand) Former National Champion (Mountain Bike)
Chad Beyer (United States) Former World Champion and National Team Member
Matt Brammeier (Ireland) 3-Time National Champion
Chris Butler (United States) 3-Time NCAA National Champion
Chun Kai Feng (Taipei) 3-Time National Champion
Matthias Friedemann (Germany)
Gregor Gazvoda (Slovakia) 4-Time National Time Trial Champion
ChanJae Jang (South Korea) 2012 National Road Champion
Kun Jiang (China) Current record holder All China Team Pursuit
Pengda Jiao (China)
Craig Lewis (United States) 2-Time Under 23 Road and Criterium National Champion
Biao Liu (China)
Ryota Nishizoma (Japan) 2012 National Time Trial Champion
Mart Ojavee (Estonia) 2011 National Road Champion
Adiq Othman (Malaysia) 2012 Olympian and 2010 National Road Champion
Ryan Roth (Canada) 2012 National Road Champion
Fabian Schnaidt (Germany) Former Under 23 National Champion
Wang Yip Tang (Hong Kong) Former National Champion
Bobbie Traksel (Netherlands) 2010 Kuurne Brussels Kuurne Champion
Kin San Wu (Hong Kong) 2008 Olympian and Former National Road Champion
Gang Xu 2012 National Road Champion