Will Clarke won the Champion System Pro Cycling team's first race of the season Sunday and teammate Cameron Wurf was second in the Tour of Japan's prologue time trial.
Clarke covered the 2.65 kilometer course in three minutes and 19 seconds, one second faster than Wurf, as the 15th edition of the race got underway in Sakai, Japan. King Lok Cheung (Hong Kong National Team) was third, two seconds behind Clarke.
Clarke said he was feeling good during a morning criterium that was not scored as part of the stage race. "It definitely helped motivate me to do a good time in the prologue," he said. "I'm extremely happy and proud to be able to deliver the Champion System team its first victory."
Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said the win was particularly satisfying for the team, which is Asia's first pro continental squad.
"We sent a strong team to Japan because we felt it was important to establish our identity there, especially with Japan being such a strong market for Champion System," Beamon said. "It's great to start off the race with such an outstanding result and we hope there's more to come."
Clarke's victory was his second of the year after winning Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under while riding for the composite UniSA-Australia squad. After a transfer day Monday, he will wear the green leader's jersey – manufactured and provided by Champion System – in Tuesday's 160 km road race.
"This is the first time Champion System has been sponsor of the leaders jerseys, so it would be great to bring it home all the way to Tokyo," Champion System co-founder Louis Shih said.
Champion System Sport Director Chris Wherry, who is directing the team at the race, said he hopes to build momentum from the win.
"The guys are super motivated now and I think this is just the thing we needed to get the ball rolling," he said. "I hope that the energy we have here spreads to the guys racing right now in Europe as well."