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Fukushima to captain new Korean pro team

Shinichi and Koji Fukushima

Shinichi and Koji Fukushima (Image credit: Steve Thomas)

With his EQA-Meitan-Hompo team is taking a year off due to a lack of sponsorship, former Japanese champion Shinichi Fukushima will captain the newly UCI-registered Korean Geumsan Ginseng Asia Continental Cycling Team in 2010. The EQA-Meitan-Hompo team is aiming to return in 2011 as a Pro Continental team.

At the age of 38, the 2007 Tour de Langkawi stage seven winner Fukushima is considering "riding for one or two more years" before jumping over to the management side of cycling full time. However, getting involved in organizing teams won't be new to Fukushima. A few years ago, he set up a development squad called Daihatsu Bonne Chance [good luck in French - ed.] to give his young fellow countrymen a chance to race as amateurs in France.

Geumsan County has supported a local cycling team for the past 10 years. For the first time, it'll promote its ginseng products via an international squad, which will be Korea's second team after the well established Seoul Cycling.

"Geumsan Ginseng is a long term project for all of Asia, not only Korea," said the company's business manager Danny Feng who is a Chinese-born American based in Malaysia. In fact, it will be a multinational team with Fukushima and two other Japanese riders Takeshi Igarashi and Nara Motoi. Singapore's promising prospect Ji Wen Low is transferring from LeTua, and Thailand's Phuchong Saiudomsil will also be on the team. He finished second overall and won the KOM at the 2009 Tour of Thailand.

The Korean riders selected by team manager Choi Hee Dong are Hwng In Hyuk, Kim Yung Uk, Kim Jong Kwag, Kweon Jun Oh, Choi Hyung Min and Yu Gi Hong, who won stage 9 in the 2009 Tour of Korea. Most have a track background in pursuit events.

"I can see an even bigger potential for cycling talent in Korea than in Japan", said Fukushima, whose famous showman brother Koji retired from cycling one year ago. Beside the UCI Asia Tour, Geumsan Ginseng plans to race in Europe from July through September just as EQA-Meitan-Hompo has successfully done in recent years.