The Tour de Langkawi marks the debut of Craig Lewis for the Champion System Pro Cycling Team, which will be on the hunt for stage wins during the 10-day race in Malaysia.
"Training camp was really solid and I'm excited to see how the first race goes," Lewis said. "My training has really progressed but it's hard to say how that will show here with all of the travel and heat. But I am hoping to get 10 solid days of racing in the legs to form a base for the rest of the year.
"My only real expectation is to finish stronger than when I've started. If I can offer help to the guys and we win a stage, that would be huge."
Joining Lewis on the six-rider Champion System roster is American Chris Butler, Australian Aaron Kemps, Jaan Kirsipuu of Estonia and Malasians Anuar Manan and Adiq Othman. The more than 1,400-kilometer race begins Friday with a 20.3-kilometer individual time trial.
Champion System Pro Cycling Team General Manager Ed Beamon said Kemps, Kirsipuu and Manan offer a formidable lineup to contest the sprints, while Butler will look to the overall.
"Our first objective will be to get Anuar a victory," Beamon said. "Butler will be our man for Genting (Stage 6's mountain-top finish), but this will be a very tough race for the general classification. So we'll concentrate on stages."
Beamon said Asia's first pro continental squad has learned a lot in a short time. In addition to competing at the Tours of Qatar and Oman the past month, Champion System is also fielding a team for Saturday's opening Belgian classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
"The races in the Middle East were a big learning experience, and I think especially the Chinese guys grew a lot," Beamon said.
Tour of Langkawi Roster (Feb. 24-March 4):
Chris Butler (USA), Aaron Kemps (AUS), Jaan Kirsipuu (EST), Craig Lewis (USA), Anuar Manan (MAS), Adiq Othman (MAS).