NYVC: Hi, Igor. I have to ask this first becuase I’m a bit confused;
isn’t there already a Stan’s NoTubes team? How did we get two No Tubes teams in
the CRCA? Did you take the sponsor from the existing team?
Igor Volshteyn: I think it’s a little inaccurate to just call us both “NoTubes” teams.
Yes, we are both sponsored by Stan’s NoTubes (SNT), and both of our teams will
compete exclusively on tubeless technology in 2012, but SNT is our presented
by sponsor while it is the title sponsor of SNT/AXA. The distinction between the
two levels of sponsorship is significant and it’s actually not unique in cycling for
two teams to share sponsors at different sponsorship levels. There are a couple
of teams and relationships that come to mind. There’s Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro
Cycling p/b GEARGRINDER and Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b Kenda. In addition
there’s the GEARGRINDER Pro Development Team. One other that comes to mind
is UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and Chemstar p/b UnitedHealthcare Cycling
When we were introduced to SNT, it was our understanding that they were
interested in adding another road team to their sponsorship program. And even in
my introductory email, because I thought it was the right thing to do, I made it very
clear that we were not interested in stealing the sponsorship of any other team.
In addition, we were told early on that SNT would continue its title sponsorship of
SNT/AXA in 2012, so for us it really felt like a win-win for everybody. SNT after all
is a New York based company, so I’m not sure it’s at all surprising that they want to
support New York based teams. And it’s not just men’s teams and NYC, SNT is also
working with teams such as the NYVelocity women’s team and even title sponsoring
the Great American Cycling Series which includes races such as the Tour of the
Knowing the type of races that SNT/AXA will most likely target, we are very focused
on making sure our race schedule provides SNT very differentiated exposure.
There are also a number of other things we are looking to do on the ground that
will differentiate ourselves from the SNT/AXA team. Just because both teams are
based in NYC doesn’t mean it’s exclusively our “target market” and I think that with
both teams SNT will see a very thorough level of local, national and international
exposure with very little overlap. So to finish answering your questions, I don’t
believe it’s our job to concern ourselves with the corporate decisions of SNT…we
leave that completely to SNT.
NYVC: Another confusing point, there already is a pro Champion System team, what is
your relationship to them, if any, and why do they need two teams? Will you race
each other, help each other? And could we see a race where it’s Champ Sys vs SNT vs
Champ Sys/SNT- confusing right?
Igor Volshteyn: Champion System has sponsored our team since 2005. Last year Champion
System formed a Continental team and this year they have made the historic step
of launching the first ever Asian-based UCI Pro Continental team. However, my
understanding is that the Pro Continental Team will not have much of a focus on
the US this year. I think that’s the value that Champion System sees in us. We have
really elevated our program, so I truly believe we can provide them the type of
exposure that they are seeking in the States. In the years to come, we would hope
to aspire to a level that would allow us to be a formal development program for
the Champion System Pro Team. I think you will see some hint of that this year
as Champion System will be sending a few riders to race with us this summer in
order to develop some skills that aren’t as easy to necessarily develop in Asia.
But in terms of racing together, I think the chances of that are very remote and we
have enough communication between the two programs to make sure we avoid
any unwanted conflicts. Not to mention the type of UCI license the Pro team holds
pretty much prevents it from doing non-UCI events and the UCI events it would
likely look to do in the States would not be something that we would be eligible for.
NYVC: Thanks for allaying my fears. So explain how this all came together then.
Igor Volshteyn: Ok, so last year I raced with Jonathan Adler and started getting close with Greg
Olsen and Mitch Jacaruso who were also part of the team. The three of us all shared
a strong desire to not only give back to the sport but also to grow the team to
compete on more of a national level. With this in mind, we started to test the waters
and entered the team in a couple of major NRC/UCI stage races such as the Tour de
Toona and the Tour of Elk Grove (which included riders such as Olympian Bobby
At the same time, the Champion System Racing team, which had been managed
by Andrew Kozak for the last few years, and was founded by Ray and Rennie
Alba, was going through a bit of a rebuilding period and was looking to jumpstart
things for the following season. Greg, Mitch and I decided late summer that we
would each make a personal financial contribution to help start this team that we
envisioned. From there, things really just started to snowball and finally began
to cement following the Univest Grand Prix (where I actually rode for Champion
System). Kozak and Champion System came on board and immediately raised the
prospects and scale of the program. Around the same time, Chris Johnson, who we
had approached as a possible rider but was not initially available, departed the
Stan’s NoTubes/ AXA Equitable team. I had raced with Chris the previous summer
on 2 separate composite teams, which were ironically both sponsored by Champion
System and managed by Kozak. Chris had been helping SNT to produce marketing
material for the road line and made the introduction to SNT once he learned
they were looking to increase their presence in the road market. From there, the
structure of the team really started to take shape and we focused our attention on
filling out the roster.
NYVC: Will we see the "Elite team" racing locally in NYC, either at open races or in the
CRCA? Almost none of them seem to live in the city, correct?
Igor Volshteyn: Yes, you will definitely see the entire team at various local events. While we are
going to be registered with USA Cycling as a Domestic Elite team, which is a nice
distinction by USA Cycling for aspiring teams like ours, we are also part of CRCA
this year. Many of the riders, including myself, have been part of CRCA for many
years and it was a no brainer for us to embrace them. While we will be doing some
international races as a team, being present locally is also very important to us.
As far as riders living in the city, I define the “Elite team” as the Cat 1s, of which
we have 11. Of those 11, I would say that 7 of us are local (living right across the
GWB makes you local in my opinion). In order to be competitive on a national
and international level, we obviously have to draw from areas outside of NYC, but
between one rider in Allentown and two other riders from suburbs of New Jersey,
all but one of our riders are definitely regional and close enough that they could be
considered local in many places.
NYVC: There are sort of three levels to the new team, and you have from Cat 4s to
Cat 1s, is that correct? Can you explain how it works- What races does each team
compete in and how is it decided who gets on which team?
Igor Volshteyn: The focus of our program is on the Cat 1s and 2s. We have very few riders
outside of that and all of those riders are either non-racers from the respective
legacy teams, management, sponsors or sponsor liaisons. In terms of how we
determine the roster for each race, it will be a balance of racers that we feel
have a shot at making the podium and those that are capable of providing the
support necessary for that goal. It’s really not any more complex than that and we
fortunately have a team that I believe has many riders that are perfectly content
playing both roles depending on the type of race. The only thing I would add is that
for the Cat 2s, our goal is that each racer is well on his way to becoming a Cat 1, so
instead of just playing support roles, we are also going to look for opportunities for
them to shine through participation in Cat 2 only races.
NYVC: You said earlier that one of your goals was to give back to the community, besides
the racing team what exactly do you have in mind?
Igor Volshteyn: I’m happy you asked that. Yes, that is absolutely a core principle of what this
team is going to be about. First, as you may know, CRCA has recently formed a
not-for-profit entity called the CRC Development Foundation and Ken Harris is the
President as well as Director of the CRCA junior team. We are very happy to have
Ken continue with our program after several years of racing with Adler. As part of
our mission to establish a true development platform in the NYC area, we plan to
work closely with Ken and his athletes so that in the seasons to come we can create
a seamless transition between the programs that will allow very talented local
juniors to move into our program as they graduate from the junior ranks.
Second, we are working with CRCA to put a criterium on the CRCA open calendar
for this season. Our sponsor, Scott Snyder, has a restaurant in Kenilworth, NJ
(BoulevardFive72) and has strong ties to the community there. He is helping us
work with the city to make this a reality. Not only do we hope that we can bring
another high quality event to the area, but our mission is to put all of the proceeds
to charity. What a lot of people may not know is that we have our own not-for-
profit that was established many years ago by Ray and Rennie Alba. Ray and Rennie
continue to be an integral part of our program and we hope to build on their passion
for charitable causes.
And lastly, we are very happy to be able to offer everybody in NYC an opportunity
to personally test the terrific tubeless technology of SNT. Mark Purdy from iFIXBYX
will be running a formal SNT wheel demo program from his bike shop. Mark was a
very early adopter of tubeless himself and I don’t think there is anybody in this area
that has converted more wheels to tubeless. We hope that many of your readers
will be able to test the technology first hand.
NYVC: You also mentioned some International racing? Can you elaborate on this, what is
the schedule looking like?
Igor Volshteyn: Yeah, we’re really excited about the schedule. Right now two of our riders are
actually in China attending the Champion System Pro Racing team training camp.
In late February we are sending a few riders to compete in the Dominican Republic
for the UCI Vuelta Independencia Nacional and then in March we will be sending a
full squad to Brazil for the UCI Giro do Interior de Sao Paulo. Matthew Koschara has
come on board as the Director of Performance and has a pretty ambitious schedule
for the boys this year. You will see us field elite squads at select UCI America Tour
races and a lot of the NRC and NCC events; we also hope to make it to Asia at some
point towards the later part of the racing season. But again, we intend to have a
strong presence locally, as the local races and local cycling community were really
the catalyst for this team to begin with. We’re looking to make a splash, but we’re
also looking to create a program that will be around for years to come and will
continue to grow.
NYVC: Where do you see the team in say four years if all goes well, do you have
ambitions of racing to become a UCI pro team?
Igor Volshteyn: Sure, it would be fun to run a pro team, but that’s not what this is really about
for us. The mission right now is to create a real development program for the NYC
region, something like Toga used to have. If we do this right, there may eventually
be an opportunity to elevate our program to something similar to the development
programs run by Garmin, RadioShack and BMC. But before we start dreaming about
something like that, I would personally be ecstatic to just have a successful 2012
season and not have too many hiccups in the process.
NYVC: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Is there anything else you
would like to share?
Igor Volshteyn: Thank you, we’re looking forward to a fun year and thanks for your interest in
New York, NY (FPRC) January 24th, 2012
Champion System and Stan’s NoTubes Create a New U.S. Based Elite Team
Champion System and Stan’s NoTubes have expanded their support of cycling by
creating a new U.S. based elite team for the 2012 season. The new Champion System
p/b Stan’s NoTubes/CRCA team will be based in New York City, registered with USA
Cycling as a Domestic Elite Team and is an official development program for the
Champion System Pro Cycling Team based in Asia.
“We’re very excited to be working with Champion System and Stan’s NoTubes on
this new program,” says managing director Igor Volshteyn. “Having the support and
experience of a company like Champion System behind us is amazing. Partnering
with Stan’s NoTubes is key as their tubeless technology is revolutionizing the road
bike industry and will provide us with a significant competitive advantage.”
The team will focus on select UCI America Tour races, National Race Calendar races
and National Criterium Calendar races, as well as some opportunities in Asia. “First
up for the team will be the UCI Giro do Interior de Sao Paulo in Brazil from March
14-March 18,” says Director of Performance Matthew Koschara. Koschara, a former
pro with the Navigators Insurance Cycling Team and Team Shaklee, who has almost
100 career victories to his name, will oversee the elite riders.
In line with the partnership with the Champion System Pro Cycling Team, the
team will host a number of developing Asian riders in the US during the spring and
summer months. “This program will allow developing Hong Kong and other Asian
based riders a direct way to travel and race in the US,” says Louis Shih of Champion
System, “kind of like an exchange program.” Adding to the exchange element of
the program, the U.S. based Domestic Elite Team currently has two of its riders
attending the Champion System Pro Cycling Team training camp on the island of
Hainan in China.
Team sponsors include : Champion System, Stan’s NoTubes, Morrison Foerster,
Lenox Advisors, Hahn Family Wines/Cycles Gladiator, IRC Tire, iFIXBYX, MOJO
Compression Socks, Henry’s and BoulevardFive72 Restaurants, DrinkUpNY,
enduranceWERX and Clif Bar & Company.
2012 Domestic Elite Roster:
Gavriel Epstein (CAN)
Richard Gargiulo (USA)
Chris Gruber (CAN)
Tony Hall (USA)
Colin Jaskiewicz (USA)
Chris Johnson (USA)
Gregory Olsen (USA)
Sean Smith (USA)
Zoltan Tisza (HUN)
Roberto Torres-Aguiar (PUR)
Igor Volshteyn (USA)
Management is comprised of Igor Volshteyn, Andrew Kozak, Mitchell Jacaruso,
Gregory Olsen, Matthew Koschara, Chris Johnson, Ray Alba and Rennie Alba.
Champion System p/b Stan’s NoTubes/CRCA is owned and operated by 9W Sports
Igor Volshteyn, Managing Director
Champion System p/b Stan’s NoTubes