Gazvoda, who won the race in 2011 while racing for Perutnina Ptuj, said he is always eager and respectful of races that have brought him success in the past.
“I respect this race very much,” Gazvoda said. “First, because it is a very hard race at such a high altitude and second, because it is a race that takes place on such a beautiful piece of Earth where we get to enjoy amazing landscapes.”
Joining Gazvoda at the 2,010-kilometer race are Chinese teammates Biao Liu and Pengda Jiao. The race begins in Liu’s hometown of Xining and ends in Jiao’s hometown of Lanzhou.
“It’s an honor for me to start the race in my hometown,” Biao said. “I am excited to work together with my teammates and hopefully this will create some good results. It’s my home city after all.”
“I am very excited for the race to end in Lanzhou,” Jiao said. “I want to put on a good show with my team in front of my hometown.”
Rounding out the roster for Champion System – Asia’s only pro continental squad – is German Fabian Schnaidt, Dutchman Bobbie Traksel and Irish national road champion Matt Brammeier.
Schnaidt won Stage 1 and took home a total of six top 10 finishes last year in the 13-stage race that is considered the “highest” in the world – reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 4,120 meters.
Traksel, who joined the Champion System team this year, earned four top 10 finishes last year with Landbouwkrediet-Euphony.
Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said the team isn’t starting the race with a classic general classification rider, but instead is looking to take advantage of breakaways and to hunt for stage wins.
“Gregor is a former winner and Fabian wore the leader’s jersey last year after winning a stage,” Beamon said. “I think we have a good team to support him in the sprinting stages. Of course the biggest factor in Qinghai is the extreme altitude and we’ll have to see how everyone adjusts, but I think our guys will be prepared.”
Champion System Pro Cycling Team Tour of Qinghai Lake Roster:
Matt Brammeier (IRL), Chun Kai Feng (TPE), Gregor Gazvoda (SLO), Penda Jiao (CHN), Biao Liu (CHN), Fabian Schnaidt (GER), Bobbie Traksel (NED).
Sport Director: Ed Beamon (USA).
Champion System’s Pengda Jiao will be in action in his home country at the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
(photo courtesy: Champion System)
Biao Liu (right) was part of a breakaway at last year’s USA Pro Challenge. (Brian Hodes, VeloImages.)