In the midst of the doping revelations surrounding Lance Armstrong from USADA's massive dossier of evidence, it seemed as if the first chip had fallen with the announcement that the Canadian Spidertech-C10 team would "postpone" its racing activities for 2013.
Cyclingnews spoke with team manager Steve Bauer who emphasized that the Armstrong news had "absolutely nothing to do with the decision, that's a certainty".
"It has more to do with the path to the WorldTour. We have not secured a sustainable corporate sponsor. Spidertech continues to look for that partner, they haven't left the game. It's not a bankruptcy, it's not us falling off the map and disappearing. They're still committed to the sport and they want to achieve success, but they were nervous about not having the corporate alignment to get to the WorldTour."
Bauer reiterated previous statements made by Cycle Sport Management on Twitter, that the team owners would work to place the riders they've signed for the coming season on other teams.
"It's no question a challenge," Bauer said. "Our goal is to treat them as best as we can, and ensure they keep racing and we provide them opportunity. I can't say how successful that will be because of the challenge of the late decision. Certainly we're doing 100% not only communication-wise but financially as well."
He confirmed that the team would honour its financial commitments to both riders who have signed contracts and those who reached verbal agreements with the team - a dozen or so riders, including US champion Timmy Duggan, who signed from Liquigas-Cannondale.
"This is not a 'leave the guys we've signed high and dry' and without any financial resources to going to other teams [scenario]. I think that's the most important point. That's usually not the story."
It's been a difficult and busy few days for Bauer, who helped to found Canada's top professional cycling team back in 2008, first as Team R.A.C.E. Pro, then Planet Energy, and finally Spidertech, which joined the Professional Continental ranks in 2011.
It was their goal to reach the WorldTour by 2014, and Bauer, a hall-of-famer who participated in 11 Tours de France and was the first Canadian road cyclist to win an Olympic medal, still holds to that dream.
Cycle Sport Management will continue as a business and will try to build a plan to make the dream become a reality, "like GreenEdge did - they had a strong plan, they focussed on reaching the WorldTour directly, having the financial resources to make that happen. That's what we didn't have. We're going to maintain our organisation so we can work on achieving that."
Of course, having a rider such as Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the Giro d'Italia, would help further that vision. "There's no doubt we'd be interested in having him as leader on a Canadian WorldTour team," Bauer said. "If it's meant to be in the future, then it's meant to be. I can't speculate. Certainly it would be a dream if that would come together."
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