Canada's sole UCI Continental team SpiderTech presented by Planet Energy will launch its new squad in one of the nation's most prominent and historical landmarks at the Royal Ontario Museum located in Toronto, Canada on January 28. Directeur Sportif Steve Bauer will auction off one of his yellow jerseys earned as leader of the 1990 Tour de France as a symbol of the squad's ambition to become Canada's first ProTour team.
"Our vision for the long term of the team is to go to the Tour de France and bring a Canadian core group, a Canadian-based team, in the future," Bauer said. "Because that's our vision it's a good time to pass that torch and send out the right message about what we are doing. We have enough Canadian guys in the world that are knocking on the door to be in the Tour."
SpiderTech presented by Planet Energy will host two team launches with the first located at the Saputo Stadium in Montreal, Quebec on January 27 followed by the second launch in the neighboring city of Toronto the next day. The second launch, held at the Royal Ontario Museum, will include a private dinner for sponsors and VIPs along with a team fundraiser where Bauer will auction off his final yellow jersey from the 1990 Tour de France.
Bauer is one of Canada's most decorated cyclists and has been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. He was the second Canadian to earn a yellow jersey at the Tour de France, after Alex Stieda, and the only Canadian to wear it since.
Bauer's collection of yellow jerseys totals fourteen, where captured while leading the 1988 Tour for five stages and again in 1990 where he led the race for nine consecutive stages. His achievements go on to include wins at the Dauphiné Libéré and the Zurich-Metzgete World Cup in 1989 along with medal-earning performances at the World Championships and the Olympic Games.
The live auction will include items such as a 2010 SpiderTech presented by Planet Energy team kit, a complete team issued Argon 18 Gallium Pro equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace and PRO components, two individual trips to the 2010 Giro d'Italia with the Steve Bauer Bike Tours and lastly Bauer's 1990 Tour de France yellow jersey.
"For the yellow jersey, we will prepare an online auction which will run simultaneous to a live auction on event day," Bauer said. "During the auction, after the team launch, we are considering live to web audio-visual streaming from the house and simultaneously internet bidding. It should be fun."
Bauer believes that the auctioning of his yellow jersey is symbolic of the team's intent to rise to the ProTour level in the future. He acknowledged a progressive timeline that includes applying for a Professional Continental license. However, first in order is getting the opportunity to race in Canada's two ProTour events held in Montreal and Quebec City in September.
"There is only one Professional Continental team in all of North America," Bauer said. "That alone shows how difficult it is to bridge the gap. We need this opportunity to help make that next step."
According to Bauer, the team is actively pursuing a start spot at the two events. It received an invitation from event promoter Serge Arsenault however, according to UCI ProTour regulations, only ProTour teams are permitted to participate, along with Professional Continental team with wild card status and the host country's national team.
"We are still lobbying and writing letters to the UCI's Anne Gripper and Pat McQuaid," Bauer said. "Serge Arsenault is also going to communicate our interests to the UCI this month. We want them to realize that allowing us to compete is the right thing. If they want the sport to grow internationally, like in Canada, why would you not open the door and allow a wild card to that county's Continental team, especially given that we want to register in the biological passport program. It's forward thinking."
The team's newest signings include Lucas Euser, Guilluame Boivin, Simon Lambert-Lemay, David Boily and Flavio De Luna. Returning riders include Tour of Missouri stage seven winner Martin Gilbert along with Mark Batty, Eric Boily, Keven Lacombe, Bruno Langlois, Francois Parisien, Andrew Randell, Ryan Roth and Charly Vives.
Should the UCI stand by its ProTour regulations and not allow SpiderTech presented by Planet Energy to start, the riders will need to earn a starting spot with the Canadian National Team instead.
"We discussed the national team situation with the CCA [Canadian Cycling Association] and they would prefer us to compete as a Continental team," Bauer said. "If that doesn't come about then we are willing to work together with the national team. The difficulty would be the selection process. We want all of our riders to race but we couldn't be exclusive. We would have to allow the better riders in Canada to have a chance as well."