Beamon delighted with Champion System’s invite to Tours of Qatar and Oman
by Shane Stokes/www.velonation.com
Champion System general manager Ed Beamon has greeted the decision by ASO to award wildcard places to the team for the Tours of Qatar and Oman, saying that it will represent a big opportunity for his riders.
Beamon confirmed the news, first reported by Biciciclismo, that Champion System and Giant Kenda had both been given invitations to the prestigious early season races.
“As a first year team, I’m very happy and appreciate the confidence that ASO has shown in the Champion System team,” he told VeloNation today. “Qatar and Oman are two extremely important early season events and they will be very challenging.
“We have a very difficult opening schedule and I think it will be a big test for the guys and the organization, but our goal is to put Chinese athletes on the world stage and accelerate their development. I know the guys are extremely motivated and looking forward to the opportunity.”
Beamon confirmed that the races would be the first of 2012 for the team, which was recently awarded a UCI Pro Continental licence. He said that while the team got several invites in January, he has decided not to take those up as there is a team training camp and presentation that month.
“I didn’t want to distract from that, so Qatar will be the first race for the team,” he stated. “As Asian races, I think it’s a great sign of commitment on the part of ASO, the respective national race organizations in Qatar and Oman, and UCI to the Asian Continental circuit to have two ambitious Asian teams in these events.”
UCI rule 2.1.007 states that the three top Continental teams from Asia should be invited to races which are held in that region.
The team for the ASO races will include the Chinese competitors Xu Gang and Jiao Pengdam, as well as the Australians Aaron Kemps and Will Clarke, plus the New Zealand rider Clinton Avery. The American Chris Butler will replace Kemps in Oman. Three more riders will be confirmed closer to the event.
According to Beamon, one of these will be a rider who the team have not yet announced for 2012. He said that he is likely to confirm the identity of the that final signing after Christmas.
Of those heading to the Gulf races, Gang (pictured) is the current Chinese national champion and Pengda was best Asian rider in the Tour of China. Clarke competed with the Leopard-Trek team in 2011, while former Astana rider Kemps was with Fly V Australia and won a stage of the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Avery was a stagiaire for RadioShack in 2010 and raced this year with the EFC-Quick Step Cycling squad. Butler competed with the BMC Racing Team in 2010 and 2011, and was sixth on a stage of this year’s Tour of Austria.
The Tours of Qatar and Oman will begin on February 5th and 14th, respectively. “After that, next on the race docket for the Champion System team will be Le Tour de Langkawi,” confirmed Beamon. “That is setting up to be another big test and the team will launch its European campaign in late February in Belgium.
“The hard racing in Qatar and Oman should be a good introduction to what I expect will be a very challenging spring campaign.”