Champion System
December, 27 2011   Bookmark and Share
Manan, Adiq and Kirispuu heading Champion System team in Tour de Langkawi
By VeloNation Press

Heading the Champion System team in the Malaysian race, 2010 Tour de Langkawi points classification winner Anuar Manan and four-time Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu are both part of the team’s selection in the Malaysian event.

The squad was recently confirmed by the UCI as the first-ever Pro Continental team from Asia and will make its 2012 debut in the Tours of Qatar and Oman. Six of the riders will then travel to Kuala Lumpur for the Tour de Langkawi start on February 24.

Like Manan, who has been one of the quickest sprinters in the event in the past two years, former Drapac Professional rider Mohd Adiq Husainie Othman will also be a focus of support from the Malaysian fans. His participation has also been confirmed for the 2.HC event, something which gets a thumbs up from the race’s chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal.

“We always love to see Anuar in contention for winning sprints and Adiq is possibly Malaysia’s next big thing in cycling,” he said. “Our event will be the first step for them to conquer the world this year.”

The team will be guided by experienced American manager Ed Beamon, who recently spoke at length to VeloNation about the team’s ambitions for 2012 and beyond. His team will also include the Americans Chris Butler, previously with the BMC Racing Team, and the 2011 HTC Highroad rider Craig Lews, plus the Australian Aaron Kemps.

“We will come to LTdL with a lot of ambition,” Beamon pledged. “It looks to be a very good field, and of course there will be some pressure on us as an Asian team, but I think we’ll be up for the task. Chris Butler will be anxious to test his legs on Genting for sure and we’ll try very hard to get Anuar a stage win (or two).

“I think we are bringing a pretty fast team with Kirsipuu, Kemps and Manan, but I’d love to see Adiq have a shot from a small group one day. Craig Lewis’ experience will be a big help and I’m hoping he and Adiq will find some quick chemistry and that will really be a good motivator.”

Manan became a big star in 2010, winning the Langkawi stage into Port Dickson and taking the points classification. He received huge support from the Malaysian fans and while he wasn’t able to overcome a completely dominant Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini) in 2011, still performed strongly. He knows 2012 will be a big year for him, and the race is a good place to start.

“For the coming Le Tour de Langkawi, I don’t want to win only one stage,” he said. “I want to win more than one and get the blue jersey back. I believe that I’ll have the right team around me to achieve that, with riders like Aaron Kemps and Jaan Kirsipuu who have a great experience in leading out sprinters.

“After so many years riding for continental Asian teams, it’s the right time for me to step up and join the Pro Continental level,” he said. “I’ve opted for Champion System because it’s going to be a very good team and they’ll give me opportunities to race in Europe and in the US as well. I’m attracted by Europe even more than the US because this is only one step for me. I hope it’ll lead me to a Pro Team after one year or two.”

Adiq is similarly motivated to show his worth. “I’m very proud to be already able to ride at Pro Continental level at the age of only 21,” he said. “I’m happy with that. It’s a great experience. This will be my third time riding LTdL. In my first participation in 2010, I managed to score KOM points and help my team-mate [Peter McDonald] fight for podium and KOM jersey. In 2011, I made some top 10 at stages. I hope I can do better in 2012. With the new team, my motivation is increased.”

The team will meet in Hong Kong beforehand, have the team presentation in Beijing and then have a training camp in Hainan in January.