While European professionals are looking to kick start their training for the 2013 season, the team from Champion System Pro Cycling is focussed on getting through the final race of the year in China after recently completing Tour of Taihu Lake. It's been an enduring season for the team that started their 2012 campaign at Tour of Qatar in February.
General Manager Ed Beamon says the unique set-up of the team, formed to develop Asian cyclists into top professionals, poses some interesting challenges. One of the most significant aspects of the team is managing the various cultural differences within the team that races across Asia, Europe and the United States.
"It's a part of the unique challenge," Beamon told Cyclingnews. "Going into next year we've already got 12 countries represented. It is an intriguing mix of people and adds to the complications but also to some of the rewards of being part of the programme. It's a great education for everybody."
Beamon has learned a lot during the first year in the Professional Continental ranks and has made adjustments to the roster designed to not only gain results but also to properly integrate with the team's philosophy. Some of the 2013 signings have been announced with Bobby Traksel, Ryan Roth and Ryan Anderson however, Beamon says it's not just about obtaining riders with the best list of results - they have to truly believe in what the team is trying to achieve.
"It's not necessarily about getting the guy with the best results or impressive CV but getting the guy who has the right personality, along with the experience, who understands the programme and what we are trying to do. They need to be able to embrace that and relate to it while bringing his experience and skills to the table," he told Cyclingnews.
"My first challenge is to find some Asian guys. It's not just a marketing stake, the whole point of this project is to help develop and promote Asian cycling. That's also a challenge because we want guys who can really contribute but also with the right personality, drive and physical ability to develop and benefit from our programme," he said.
"The next thing is to find guys with experience. We don't have the biggest budget so I can't just go and buy high-priced riders. We have to be creative and prudent in finding guys. Finding the right personality that fits with your programme and your group and guys is really critical especially at this level, as opposed to the WorldTour level."
The team secured a number of wins and podium spots in Asia however, they could not match the same level of success in Europe. With a number of the Asian riders performing strongly in the longer tours closer to home and accumulating over nearly 80 days of racing, Beamon says it's more important to have experienced riders alongside them, rather than being over-raced in Europe.
"One thing I've learned this year is it's not so important to have those guys racing in Europe as it is to have them exposed to the guys who have the experience of racing in Europe.
"We are going to really try and limit the amount of racing they do and instead build the races around some very good training blocks to target specific races."
The level of European racing may have been, at this point, a little too difficult for his Asian riders considering it was the first many of them had spent in Europe. It also comes down to the type of races that fills up the majority of a normal season. Nearly all the races in Asia are multiple-day tours and this should be fostered, rather than focussing too heavily on the push into European one-day races.
"Many of the Asian guys turn out to be pretty good stage races. One of the reasons they have so many kilometres of racing is because all those Asian races are big tours. They are often seven, eight, nine, ten-day tours. They are used to doing those multiple day volume efforts," Beamon told Cyclingnews.
"One of the things I think we did wrong this year was getting them involved in a lot of single day races that were so hard, difficult and so far from what they have been doing that they were getting in the way of being able to properly prepare for some of the bigger tours."
Beamon added that pooling together the right mix of riders is not always easy, everything comes across his desk at some point and that without a dedicated group designed to flush out upcoming talent, many good riders can fall through the cracks. The current influx of professional riders on the market means that if people want to get noticed, they need more than just results.
"We don't have a scouting department. It is difficult to stay on top of the volume at times. I'm sure that guys fall through the cracks, guys that might be a really good fit for the programme just slip through when so much is going on.
"This year it has been a bit of a struggle wading through all the great, potential opportunities that are out there. Between teams collapsing and merging, the WorldTour hunt for points, it's putting a lot of guys on the market who are really attractive. I think you could go with a couple of teams right now if you had the budget to do it," he said.
"I know people might feel like they are being a pest but I think it's good practice for guys to follow up a little bit. If you are tired of hearing from them, you will probably tell them you are tired of hearing from them."
The 2013 team will come together for the first time in early December, where after such a long season Beamon says he "expects them not to turn up with their bikes."
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