BMX champ Steven Wong focuses on road racing with Champion System Pro Cycling
by Xylon van Eyck/www.velonation.com
BMX champion Steven Wong will be focussing his attention on road cycling for the first full season in 2012 with the Champion System team. It will be the first UCI Professional Continental registered squad in China next season and has already announced the return of Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu plus the signings of Will Clark, Aaron Kemps and Clinton Avery.
Wong, a multiple champion on the BMX Asian scene, told VeloNation he needed a new challenge, which is the main reason he has switched to road cycling. He believes it will re-energise his career, giving him new highs to aim for.
“After winning pretty much everything in my life and been number one on the UCI Asia ranking for the past seven years and seven consecutive Asian titles and every single gold medal under my belt, I just lost a goal to train for,” he said. “Then I had some time off to think and when the time came around to train again it wasn't the same anymore. I got very sick at the end of that year in preparation for 2011 season and needed to do a big endurance block to get back up to my level.
“Right at that time Champion System was going for a training camp and they said ‘if you need endurance, you might as well join us.’ After two weeks training with the team, I knew my direction. I also used to race road bikes when I was young and it just felt really good to be back on it and everything just felt right again.
“From there everything just escalated into all this. I'm unbelievably thankful to Champion System for giving me this chance.”
Wong started racing with the team several months into the season and admits he found this year tough. He failed to finish races such as Paris–Corrèze and Tour of Hainan and finished out of the time limit on stage three of the Tour of China. The Belgian born Hong Kong cyclist described the racing as being thrown “into a cage of wild lions.” He has had to adapt from BMX racing where efforts are 40 seconds at maximum speed compared to three to six hour races on the road. This has forced him to lose some muscle and drop in body weight as he prepares for next season.
Importantly, he’s not discouraged. “For myself I am very happy with my improvement this season. To see where I came from and see how I'm racing now I can’t wait to have a good winter and jump into next season.”
The team’s new General Manager Ed Beamon believes the rider will become a fierce sprinter if he is to grow into the potential they have seen in him. Wong himself believes this too, and won’t let a tough year of learning put him down.
“I can only say I will definitely do what it takes to be one of the best sprinters in the world. I do realize nothing comes easy and nothing gets given to you so I still have a long, long road of hard work in front of me.”