Here at camp we have a wide variety of nationalities. Of our riders alone we represent 15 different nations and with the staff included we represent 17 nations. I think on our team it is the largest representation of nations of ANY sports team. Not just in cycling teams.
Fumiyuki Beppu is one of our new riders for 2005. He hails from Japan and is our first ever rider from Japan much less our first rider of Asian descent. He comes from the amateur ranks having raced for a small French amateur team for two seasons.
Quite an interesting guy and a real nice guy to boot. He is basically blown away here with us as it is not only a dream for him to turn pro but a Division 1 team (pro tour team designation as of 2005). Then to ride with Lance which many riders wish to do. Imagine getting put in the draft pool. Then getting picked by the Chicago Bulls of which Michael Jordan is a member (back then of course). Who would not be excited?
On our local training rides there are often some professional riders who participate. Russell Hamby, Troy White, Trent Klasna (Sierra Nevada), Mike Sayers (HealthNet) and on occasion there are Jelly Belly riders or Lombardi/Ofoto riders there too. In the past many riders from the now defunct 7-11 and Motorola team such as Scott McKinley, Norm Alvis, Harvey Nitz, Frankie Andreu would often show up to make the rides lightning fast.
When those guys show up often it is all I can do to hang on. So to give myself something to sort of boast about (since I can’t beat them) I added the category of “Top Asian” to the ride. With only a small handful of Asian riders on our rides it is easy to podium in the “top Asian” subcategory on our training rides.
Well, even if Fumiyuki does not do a single RR, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be top Asian much longer.