Champion System Pro Cycling Team
The Champion System Pro Cycling Team has enjoyed its first training camp on the Chinese island of Hainan in the South China Sea. Image courtesy Champion Systems Pro Cycling Team

Veteran Belgian rider Gorik Gardeyn will lead the Champion System Pro Cycling Team in its first Classics appearance when Asia’s first pro continental squad takes the start line for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Feb. 25 in Belgium.

Champion System was named as one of the 24 teams that will contest the nearly 200-kilometer race over hills and cobbles of East Flanders that starts and finishes in Ghent. The team’s appearance will come on the heels of appearances in the Tours of Qatar and Oman earlier in February.

Though Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon has not yet named his roster, Gardeyn said he is anxious to help his fellow teammates – especially the Chinese and Malaysian riders – bridge a new frontier. He finished seventh in the 2007 edition of the race.

"It’s the opening weekend in Belgium and it’s a really important race,” Gardeyn said. “I feel fantastic. I appreciate this role. Where there is the opportunity I will take it. Also I have no problem guiding the guys.”

Beamon said an appearance in the 67th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a “great endorsement” for the new squad.

"We tried to build a team that would be strong in the classics-style races,” he said. “The invitation shows a special respect for the Chinese athletes. Few non-Belgian pro continental teams do the race.”

Beamon also said the team has added Tasmanian Cameron Wurf to its roster. The 2007 Oceania Games time trial champion finished fifth overall at last year’s Tour of Turkey (riding for Liquigas-Cannondale).

"Cam should add a little depth to our GC (general classification) capability,” Beamon said. “His time-trialing and climbing abilities will also give us a little more depth in the shorter stage races, and hillier one day events.”

Wurf will join the team at its Hainan China training camp later this week.


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