Canada's first UCI Professional Continental outfit SpiderTech p/b C10 was officially launched at the iconic Hockey Hall of Fame located in Toronto,Canada. Directeur Sportif Steve Bauer, a former hockey player himself, introduced his 17-man roster and announced a new recruitment program that will scout cycling talent from the nation's junior hockey league.
In the Hockey Hall of Fame's Molson Theatre, Bauer opened his presentation in memory of his first yellow jersey earned, and wore for five stages, at the 1988 Tour de France. He went on to wear the yellow jersey again at the 1990 Tour where he lead the race for nine consecutive stages. The story was symbolic of his drive to develop Canada's professional cyclists into future Tour de France contenders.
"We've continued our progress in recruiting the best Canadian talent and that has always been our main mandate to provide opportunities for Canadians," said Bauer who started the team four years ago as Planet Energy.
"And why shouldn't we? At least at the level we are now, I feel comfortable going forward with the group of guys that we have and giving them every chance to make progress in their careers and potentially make ProTour in the future," he added.
The 2011 roster includes Svein Tuft, who won the silver medal at the 2008 UCI World Time Trial Championships, Guillaume Boivin, bronze medallist at the 2010 UCI World Road Championships and Zach Bell, silver medallist at the 2009 UCI Track World-Cup. The rest of the team includes Canadian National Champion Will Routley, Mark Batty, Bruno Langlois, François Parisien, Lucas Euser, Ryan Anderson, Hugo Houle, Pat McCarty, Martin Gilbert, Keven Lacombe, Andrew Randell, Ryan Roth, David Boily and Flavio
"There are men on our team that have been on the ProTour like Svein, McCarty and Euser," Bauer said. "A guy like Boiley and Boivin will certainly get to the ProTour eventually, either with us or with another team. We have guys in our group that will make the grade, no question, and eventually, through time, we want more Canadians to join in."
"If the team progresses quickly we have to ensure that it is competitive and will have to bring in international talent," he added. "Right now, we feel comfortable going forward to the next level with the team we have now."
SpiderTech p/b C10 will kick off its season at several European stage races to prepare its riders for the Amgen Tour of California in May. "It is the number one focus for the first half of the season," Bauer said.
"It's in our market and it draws the most attention to all of the enthusiasts who follow the team because it is close to home and it has a great reputation. The competition is at a very high level and it has all the elements for us to focus on it as our number one goal."
Bauer outlined his partnership and alliances between Canada's top leading corporations that are on board to help bring SpiderTech p/b C10 to the highest level of professional racing. Those companies include Blackberry, NRS Brakes, Pinetree Capital, Planet Energy and Saputo, among others.
"C10 is our Canadian alliance of corporate sponsorship and we are going to position it as strength in the alliance and building the base of financial foundation," Bauer said. "That is why we call it C10 and that is why we now named the team powered by C10."
Following the team presentation, guests of the evening mingled in the Hockey Hall of Fame's Great Hall, an old bank restored as a showcase for the Stanley Cup, Hart Memorial Trophy and many of the National Hockey League (NHL) silverware.
Tapping into Canadian hockey talent
As the evening proceeded, Bauer announced a new recruitment program for his two junior development programs SpiderTech p/b PowerWatts in Quebec and Planet Energy p/b SpiderTech in Ontario. The program will scout potential cyclists from the nation's 5000 member junior A, AA and AAA hockey program.
"Obviously Canada is hockey and hockey is Canada, but the amount that are going to make the NHL are few," Bauer said. "We want to turn them on to cycling, even for cross training in the summer months because it's perfect to keep in shape for the start of the hockey season."
"A lot of our best guys on this team come from playing hockey," he added.
"I played hockey and so did Boivin, Lacombe and others. We are going to invite these players to test, recruit and make some noise that we have our next Tour de France team right here in Canada."
Bauer will start recruiting athletes from the junior hockey league this summer. Athletes will be invited to undergo fitness testing at the PowerWatts clinic in Montreal along with several other designated clinics across the country.
"They will take a 20 minute time trial test, because with cycling you can test real performance over a period of time," Bauer said. "It's not that difficult to identify guys with horsepower and the next step is to turn them onto the sport. It's not an easy task."
"The goal would be to recruit several athletes a year that we can put into our development cycling program," he added. "If we have five good ones, who knows maybe we have a future gem."