Champion System Re-signs Jaan Kirsipuu. Now Pro Continental
by Robert Lamb/Cyclingnewsasia.com
Born the 17th of July, 1969 Jaan Kirsipuu is back (again) with the first ever Chinese Pro Continental squad. As you may know, the Estonian rider wore the Yellow Jersey at Le Tour de France for 5 days. That was back in 1999. As another career achievement, he's now set to captain the first ever Chinese Pro Conti squad
The road season is creeping towards us and most pro teams are finalising rosters for 2012. The Champion System Professional Continental Team is no exception.
Champion System (a leading Hong Kong based custom cycling clothing outfitter) has been supporting Asian races and riders for a while now sponsoring teams in North America, Asia, Oceana and Europe. If you read xinqiwen often, they were also the title sponsor of their own Continental team in 2011 scoring numerous UCI ranked and other victories in Asia, Europe and in the USA.
Always aiming higher, 2012 will see the team aim to take their program to a bigger stage, with the clearly defined mission of forging the development of Chinese and Asian riders and racing (And hopefully an eventual World Tour slot by drawing major backers into the Asian side of the sport), the all-new team will ride out with a purpose next year under the experienced management of Ed Beamon (Former Navigators/Fly Vi/TeamType 1) and captained by veteran Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu.
Following a lengthy pro career in Europe, which saw him take 4 Tour de France stage victories and more than 130 wins in all, Jaan took a little time out. But, like many bike riders he loved racing so much that he soon returned, but with the intent of combining racing with travelling; hence he rode onto the Asian circuit a couple of seasons ago. His passion for the sport and growing interest in the emerging Asian bike racing scene lead him to the Team Champion System Continental squad last year, where he took numerous victories; the highlight of which was a stage win in the UCI Asia Tour ranked Tour de Korea.
Kirsipuu's experience and credentials are long standing, and he's proven to be a major influence on his less experienced Asian team mates, as well as an inspiration (and a target) for up and coming riders in the region. In the eyes of the Champion System management team, Kirsipuu is the ideal "in the saddle" mentor for the new project. His palmares include stage wins and the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, and many national championship victories in his native Estonia.
Also stepping up from the continental team of 2011 is the current Estonian National Road Champion Mart Ojavee, a solid 31-year old all-rounder who won several races this year, and finished 110th in the recent Road Race World Championships in Denmark.
German sprinter and rouleur Matthias Friedemann (Aged 27) and 28-year old Swiss all-rounder Joris Boillat also join the roster of transferred riders from the 2011 Champion System team. Both riders won races in the US this year (Tour de Pitman and Hills of Somerset RR respectively), and will add firepower and experience to the Anglo-Asian line up.
The Asian contingent will be headed by Hong Kong's former National Champion and 2008 Olympic Road race finisher, WU Kin San, who previously rode as a stagiere with Lampre and then with the Continental Champion System team in 2011. The 26-year old will be something of a kingpin in the multi cultural team, providing a great and proven link between the Asian and international riders.
The first two Chinese riders to be contracted to the new team are Xu Gang and Jaio Pang Da, both coming from the Chinese based Max Success-Champion System team of 2011. This year 27-year old Xu Gang took a stage victory in the Tour de Korea while Jiao Pang Da took the best Asian Rider jersey in the recent Tour of China (Both UCI Asia Tour races).