Fuji comes on board as bike sponsor of Champion System Pro Cycling Team
by Shane Stokes/www.velonation.com
Pro Continental licence in place, race programme coming together and seventeen out of the eighteen riders for 2012 already announced, the Champion System team has revealed that it will be using Fuji Bikes in 2012.
The new Chinese team with international ambitions has concluded a deal to use the bike company’s Fuji Altamira's and SST's.
The first of those is the same bike that Juan José Cobo used in winning this year’s Vuelta a España. The all-carbon frame was used by his Geox TMC team in 2011, and has features such as a tapered head tube, oversized down tube and full carbon dropouts.
The SST model is designed for the more explosive riders, namely sprinters. It has aerodynamic tubes, Fuji's R.I.B. carbon membrane technology and asymmetrical chainstays, thus making it slightly heavier but better able to transfer power to the pedals and cut through the air.
General manager Ed Beamon had some dealings with the company in the past, as his women’s squad Team Lipton used the bikes in 2006 and 2007. It featured riders such as Kristin Armstrong, Meredith Miller and Lauen Franges.
“I enjoyed working with them in the past and I know that they have often supported programs ‘with a dream’ or a mission, if you will,” he told VeloNation today. “With Lipton, it was a goal of getting Kristin prepared for her successful run at the Olympics...and of course people will know our aim of building a Chinese team to eventually compete in the Tour de France.
“Anyway, Fuji was on the top of the list back in August when we were deciding who to approach. We had a great meeting at Eurobike and pretty quickly got a deal done...it just seems like a really good fit.”
Fuji’s vice president of marketing Karen Bliss emphasised the importance of the regional aspect; the company, which started in Japan and now features factories in Taiwan and China, is pleased to support the first ever Asian Pro Continental team.
“We're thrilled to be a part of this historic project. In partnership with title sponsor Champion System Sport, it is our mutual hope to grow the market and sport in a region with huge potential, as well as put Asia's rising stars on some of the best bikes in the world,” she said.
The team has announced all but one of its riders, with four-time Tour de France stage winner Jan Kirsipuu sharing his experience and guidance with the younger competitors. It also features Chinese National Champion Xu Gang, seven-time Asian BMX Champion Steven Wong, American riders Craig Lewis (previously HTC Highroad) and Chris Butler (BMC Racing Team), plus the Australian Will Clarke (Leopard Trek).
There will also be other riders from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Estonia, Germany and Switzerland. Top signings include the former Chinese National Champion Xu Gang, Estonian four-time Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu, and seven-time Asian BMX Champion Steven Wong.
The team will make its debut in the Tours of Qatar and Oman in February. Beamon confirmed earlier this week that race organisers ASO had confirmed their participation, thus giving the team a start in two of the top early-season events. It will also ride the Tour de Langkawi at the end of that month.
Prior to that, the team presentation will be held in Beijing on January 11th.