Asia’s First Pro Continental Team Part Of USA Pro Challenge

Hong Kong, SAR – Three riders from China will be part of the USA Pro Challenge for the first time as Asia’s first pro continental squad – the Champion System Pro Cycling Team – makes its debut in the week-long race that starts Monday in Durango, Colo.

Chinese riders Pengda Jiao, Biao Liu and Gang Xu will be joined by Americans Chris Butler and Craig Lewis, Australians Will Clarke and Cameron Wurf and Matthias Friedemann of Germany. Lewis, who lives in Boulder, Colo., and Butler both participated in last year’s inaugural edition of the race.

“I’d really like to get a stage win,” Lewis said. “I don’t think I’ll be fighting for the overall, so to be on the attack on a few key stages will be the goal. I’m not sure which stages yet, as we will have to see how the race is unfolding the first couple of days.”

On the longest stage of the race in last week’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Lewis was part of a small group that built a lead of nearly 11 minutes and enjoyed more than 200 kilometers of freedom before being caught within sight of the finish line. While disappointed at that result, Lewis said it helped him build fitness for Colorado.

“I suffered through the heat the first few days, but I came around nicely towards the end,” Lewis said. “Being out there and showing off the Champion System jersey in that breakaway on Stage 4 was by far the highlight. Other than that, I tried not to tax my body too much in hopes of recovering quickly for the USA Pro Challenge.”

Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said the race through the Colorado Rockies will be much different than Utah – which had its two hardest stages at the end. For the USA Pro Challenge, three of its seven stages feature uphill finishes and the final stage is an individual time trial.

“Although there are a couple of very hard days, I don’t think this race will be as cut-and-dried,” Beamon said. “I think there will be more opportunities for breakaway scenarios that could potentially have more of an impact. But with the final time trial, the general classification will be more dependent on the time trial than Utah was.”

Champion System Pro Cycling Team USA Pro Challenge Roster (Aug. 20-26):

Chris Butler (USA), Will Clarke (AUS), Matthias Friedemann (GER), Pengda Jiao (CHN), Craig Lewis (USA), Biao Liu (CHN), Cameron Wurf (AUS), Gang Xu (CHN).

Director: Ed Beamon (USA).

Bio Snapshots:
Chris Butler (USA) – Age: 24 | Years Pro: 3
Second participation in USA Pro Challenge (54th in 2011) … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (16th overall and team’s best finisher) … Best 2012 result: 3rd, Stage 3, Tour of Japan … Fifth overall at Tour of Japan … 2011: 6th, Stage 2, Tour of Austria … 2011: Missed part of season after fracturing pelvis in crash at Giro d’Italia … national collegiate road race champion (2008).

Will Clarke (AUS) – Age: 27 | Years Pro: 2
First participation in USA Pro Challenge … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (92nd overall) … Best 2012 result: 1st, prologue, Tour of Japan and 1st, Stage 2, Santos Tour Down Under … Six top 10 finishes include 8th at Rund um Köln … 2010: 3rd overall, Tour de Taiwan.

Matthias Friedemann (GER) – Age: 27 | Years Pro: 7
First participation in USA Pro Challenge … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (DNF) … Best 2012 result: 3rd, Stages 1 and 6, Tour de Beauce … Stage 1 winner and fourth overall at 2009 Course de Solidarnosc et des Champions Olympiques.

Pengda Jiao (CHN) – Age: 26 | Years Pro: 8
First participation in USA Pro Challenge … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (DNF) … Best 2012 result: 2nd, Stage 4, Tour of Japan … Fourth on Stage 3 at Tour of Qinghai Lake … 2011: Earned “Best Chinese Rider” honors at Tour of China … 2010: Runner-up, Stage 6, Tour de Korea.

Craig Lewis (USA) – Age: 26 | Years Pro: 8
Second participation in USA Pro Challenge (85th overall) … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (48th overall) … Best 2012 result: 1st, Stage 2, Tour de Beauce … 2011: member of winning team time trial squad on Stage 1 of Giro d’Italia … Under 23 national road (2006) and criterium (2006) champion.

Biao Liu (CHN) – Age: 24 | Years Pro: 5
First participation in USA Pro Challenge … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (DNF) … Best 2012 result: 51st overall, Tour of Qinghai Lake … 2011: Runner-up, Chinese national time trial championship … Fifth-year professional.

Cameron Wurf (AUS) – Age: 29 | Years Pro: 3
First participation in USA Pro Challenge … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (44th overall) … Best 2012 result: 2nd overall, Tour of Qinghai Lake and 2nd, prologue, Tour of Japan … Eight top 10 finishes include seventh overall at Tour of Japan … Competed in the 2004 Olympics in rowing (lightweight double scull).

Gang Xu (CHN) – Age: 28 | Years Pro: 10
First participation in USA Pro Challenge … Last race: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (85th overall) … Best 2012 result: 3rd, Stage 4, Tour of Japan … 2011: Stage 3 winner, Tour de Korea … Four-time (2007-2010) Chinese national road champion.

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