Champion System completes 2012 lineup with signing of Gorik Gardeyn
by Shane Stokes/www.velonation.com
The Champion System team has confirmed the signing of its eighteenth and final rider, the Belgian Gorik Gardeyn, with general manager Ed Beamon describing him as a very important element in the 2012 lineup.
The 31 year old sprinter is best known for stage victories in the Tour of Denmark and the Tour of Belgium, and has also clocked up wins in the Classic Haribo, Omloop van het Waasland and the Nationale Sluitingsprijs.
Gardeyn has ridden with the Silence Lotto/Lotto Domo squad for the majority of his twelve year pro career, but has been a Vacansoleil rider for the past two seasons.
Following a signature this weekend, he’ll now compete as part of Asia’s first-ever Pro Continental squad in 2012. His signing should help the Chinese team in its multi-year project to become a UCI ProTeam squad and ride the Tour de France.
“I’m very happy to have Gorik on the Champion System squad,” said general manager Ed Beamon. “He’s had to suppress some of his ambition as he has been a key support rider on many of his previous teams. But we expect to give him plenty of opportunity to lead on this team – especially in the tough Belgian and Dutch classic style races.”
He elaborated further to VeloNation about how he saw the 31 year old fitting in. “I expect we will spend a lot of time in Belgium, Holland and Northern France and Gorik excels in that type of racing. He knows the roads, he knows the riders, and he's had success there,” he explained. “Most of the Asian guys we've brought on are either sprinters or all-around power guys and I think Gorik is the type of rider they aspire to be. So again his experience is an important part of our ability to develop riders.”
The guiding role is also one that four-time Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirspuu will play, but the two will often be in different locations. “Jaan will race much more in Asia and Gorik in Europe, and of course Craig [Lewis] is more of a stage racer, so it's a good combination of leadership quality,” he continued.
Gardeyn is looking forward to the move. “I am happy about this opportunity,” he explained. “This is an exciting new project and I am happy to have this opportunity to share my knowledge of European racing with my new teammates.”
The squad will have its team presentation in Beijing next month. It will then make its racing debut in two ASO-organised events, where Gerdeyn will begin his programme.
His experience aside, Beamon is clear on what made Gardeyn a draw when he was sourcing riders for the team. “Starting the season in Qatar & Oman will make Gorik particularly important,” he explained to VeloNation, “but the real kick is that when we sat and talked, I could feel the fire in his belly. He so impressed me with his sincere desire to be a part of the Champion System project. He genuinely seemed motivated, not only for the opportunity to go for victories but also to have a meaningful impact in the development process.”