Canadian Continental team Silber Pro Cycling is searching for a title sponsor for next season after Silber Investments owner Arthur Silber decided not to renew for a sixth season.
"We owe Arthur Silber just a debt of gratitude for the support he's given the team and as a whole for road cycling in Canada," team director Gord Fraser told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 1 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Tuesday.
"Without his support, I'd hate to think about where road cycling would be right now in Canada," Fraser said. "So just a shout out to Arthur and all his friends: Harold Stotland of Hamelin Industries, Michael Wolfe of Mandevco Properties and Scott McFarland of Toguri Training Systems. All those Montreal businessmen put this team together, and it's been an amazing run."
The team started in 2013 as an amateur outfit under the Medique-Silber Investments name, then morphed into Silber Pro Cycling the next year when the team jumped to the Continental level. Fraser, who joined Silber as director in 2015, said team management is holding out hope for finding a new sponsor for next year.
"Obviously, we’re searching for new partners and somebody that wants to take the reins of really the flagship project of cycling in Canada,” Fraser said. "It's turn-key. It's ready to go, and you can definitely do a lot with this team in your branding.
"So we're hoping we can keep it going, and obviously with a good result today like a couple years ago here with Chris Dahl winning and taking the yellow jersey, that would go a long way to maybe convincing somebody out there that the team is an amazing conduit for their branding."
Silber has over time taken on the role of a development program for up-and-coming Canadian cyclists, graduating several riders to the Pro Continental ranks, including Matteo Dal Cin and Nigel Ellsay to Rally Cycling, Alexander Cataford to UnitedHealthcare and Ben Perry to Israel Cycling Academy.
"That's just kind of where it's morphed into its role over the years," Fraser said. "It's all depending on what the goals of the sponsorship are, and it's just kind of adapted into this development angle and we’ve done a great job.
"We've graduated four riders to the Pro Conti ranks, and we also have guys on the team right now who, even if the team does go forward next year, there's certainly some graduate candidates. We're really proud of that role that we've done," Fraser said.
Fraser was a fearsome sprinter in his own days as a rider, retiring in 2006 from HealthNet. He also rode for Motorola, Mutuelle de Seine et Marne and Mercury en route to piling up more than 200 wins in his professional career. But he's also familiar with the heartache the sport can deliver, and so he said he and the team management have tried to be completely transparent with the riders about the team’s situation.
"I've been around the block," Fraser said. "I've been flicked so many times in my career, so we let them know a month ago that this was potentially happening. I've been getting voicemails and emails from other teams, and I'm more than happy to talk about any of my riders who might be a candidate somewhere else.
"We would love to see guys land on their feet sooner rather than later. We gave them the green light a long time ago, and just disclosed what's happening. There's nothing worse than being on a team where you're fed a bunch of B.S. We were very upfront with everybody nice and early so that we can juggle that whole dynamic now of guys racing for themselves to get a contract, but racing as a team to get the results, which is always needed at this level. I think the guys understand where they fit, and I hope that will be shown today."
After Utah, the team will compete in the Colorado Classic in what will likely be the final event under the Silber banner.
"It's really nice to be here at these massive events, the Tour of Utah and Colorado Classic," Fraser said. "It's a real exclamation point on this whole five-year run of Silber Pro Cycling."
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.
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