Champion System's Lewis Returns to Racing in Japan
Hong Kong, SAR - Champion System Pro Cycling Team's Craig Lewis, who suffered a broken elbow during a crash at Brabantse Pijl in early April, will resume racing at the eight-day Tour of Japan.
General Manager Ed Beamon said that Lewis still has some residual effects from the crash, but that the American is ready to race again for Asia's first - and only - pro continental team.
"This is a good opportunity for him to start building back his form," Beamon said. "Especially in anticipation for later in the season when he will be racing in America."
Lewis is no stranger to injury. The two-time under 23 U.S. national champion broke more than 40 bones when he was hit by a car in the Tour de Georgia in 2004. Lewis had been slated for the Amgen Tour of California, but the injury prevented him from racing. Though a few days of training in Japan have resulted in some bruising throughout his wrist, Lewis said he is eager to resume racing.
"It was tough to miss the Amgen Tour of California, but I think I am going to get a lot out of the racing and the cultural experience," Lewis said. "I'm just going to take it day-by-day with the arm."
Joining Lewis on the Champion System roster are five Asian riders, all with a list of palmares across the continent.
South Korean road champion Chan Jae Jang won Stage 3 of the Tour de Korea and was runner-up on Stage 2 of the Tour of Thailand in 2012.
Malaysian rider Adiq Othman, who finished 15th overall and notched three top 10 finishes at last year's Tour of Japan, recently earned four top five finishes at the Tour of Taiwan, including third place on Stage 6.
Beamon said he will look to Japanese time trial champion Ryota Nishizono for Stage 4. The stage is only 11.4 km, but climbs more than 1,000 meters up famed Mount Fiji.
"This is a big race for Ryota, who has been training specifically for that stage," Beamon said. "Normally he would have been at the Amgen Tour of California, except this race is so important back home."
Nishizono, who finished ninth on Stage 9 at last year's Tour of Japan, joined Champion System from the Bridgestone-Anchor team this year. He was runner-up at the 2012 Tour de Hokkaido and winner of Stage 1 and race leader for a day at the Tour de Hokkaido in 2011.
Sunday's opening stage is a 2.65-km individual time trial around Sakai.
Champion System Pro Cycling Team Tour of Japan Roster (May 19-26):
Chan Jae Jang (KOR), Craig Lewis (USA), Ryota Nishizono (JPN), Mart Ojavee (EST), Adiq Othman (MAS), Wang Yip Tang (HKG).