Hong Kong, SAR - The Champion System Pro Cycling Team - Asia's first pro continental squad - will field a roster for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah that includes three Chinese riders, two each from Australia and the United States and one from Germany.
Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said the team's line-up is well-suited for the six-day, 545-mile race that begins Tuesday and includes 38,500 feet of climbing.
"We have a mix of potential stage winners in guys like Will Clarke, Craig Lewis and Chris Butler," Beamon said. "Certainly Craig and Chris can be in the mix in the overall if the last two stages are as difficult as we think they will be."
Clarke won the prologue in May at the Tour of Japan and Stage 2 at the Santos Tour Down Under in January while Lewis captured Stage 2 at the Tour de Beauce in Canada in June. Lewis will also be an asset in the Stage 2 team time trial, having twice been a member of winning team time trial squads the past three seasons during the 2011 Giro d'Italia and the 2009 Tour de Romandie.
Butler said he has been training in Utah the past 10 days and has performed reconnaissance on all the key stages. Saturday's 101.1-mile race to the Snowbird Ski Resort and Sunday's 76.7-mile stage that starts and finishes in Park City should be the most decisive, he said.
"Last year, the stage to Snowbird broke the race apart, with more than a minute between first and fifth place and more two minutes for the guys finishing sixth through 10th," Butler said. "It seems like the last stage this year is going to be even tougher than that. So it's going to be a pretty big spread between places, which is good. It's going to come down to those two stages."
Champion System will also benefit from Assistant Director Burke Swindlehurst's knowledge of the race. The Utah native and resident has previously served as the race's competition director and was runner-up on the Snowbird stage in 2009.
Champion System Pro Cycling Team Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Roster (Aug. 7-12):
Chris Butler (USA), Will Clarke (AUS), Pengda Jiao (CHN), Matthias Friedemann (GER), Craig Lewis (USA), Biao Liu (CHN), Cameron Wurf (AUS), Gang XU (CHN).
Director: Burke Swindlehurst (USA).
Chris Butler (USA)
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)
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)
Best 2012 result: 3rd, Stages 1 and 6, Tour de Beauce … Late roster replacement for Adiq Othman, who returned home for a family emergency … Stage 1 winner and fourth overall at 2009 Course de Solidarnosc et des Champions Olympiques.
Pengda Jiao (CHN)
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)
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)
Best 2012 result: 51st overall, Tour of Qinghai Lake … 2011: Runner-up, Chinese national time trial championship … Fifth-year professional.
Cameron Wurf (AUS)
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)
Best 2012 result: 3rd, Stage 4, Tour of Japan … 2011: Stage 3 winner, Tour de Korea … Four-time (2007-2010) Chinese national road champion.