Written by Craig Lewis/NBCSports.com
Photo credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images
Even though it is now public knowledge, I’m still thrilled to announce that I’ll be racing with Champion Systems for the 2012 cycling season. For those of you who do not already know, Champion Systems has been around for a few years now, but they have revamped their staff and roster and are essentially a new outfit for the next season. Registered in Asia, Champion Systems will have a truly international feel, from the races themselves to the roster.
Ed Beamon, the general manager, has been a vital part in the rebranding of the team and is now one of the first in the cycling world to tap into the massive economy and potential that Asia has to offer. There is a lot of talk about the globalization of the sport of cycling and this team couldn’t be better evidence of that.
In the early stages of the program, all seems to be top-notch. Our team fills a niche by representing the Eastern World, and will use that advantage to gain invitations to some of the bigger races in Europe and the U.S. My personal program will be a mix of some familiar races and ones - far from my comfort zone - in Asia. The diversity and cultural experiences really excite me about the coming year.
Now to set a few things straight: I by no means settled for Champion Systems. In fact, I signed very early as I saw the potential. I was still in talks with numerous teams at every level of the sport, including within the WorldTour, and I’d like to think that I chose Champion Systems just as they had chosen me.
The new team gives me a great deal of freedom to select my program throughout the year and set goals that actually involve winning races. It is all new to me and filled with uncertainties, but I haven’t really gotten much enjoyment out of the certain things in life. It is the challenges, the setbacks and the comebacks that give me the sense of fulfillment I am looking for.
With just gaining the life experiences that come from racing all across the globe, next year is already a success in my book. As professional cyclists, we live a very sheltered and privileged life that is hard – if not nearly impossible - to come by. I realize this and the fact that I can keep that door open for next year and beyond is a dream.