By Scott Kelly
It is Steve Bauer’s goal to take a Canadian team, consisting of primarily Canadian riders, to the Tour de France in 2012. Moreover, he wants to see one of those riders pull on the yellow jersey. If that happens, it will have been 22 years since a Canadian last donned the Maillot Jaune and you would be correct if you guessed that the last Canadian to do so was Bauer himself.
Bauer gathered supporters and sponsors at Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto Thursday evening to announce Team Spidertech powered by Planet Energy’s 2010 roster.
The Thursday evening event, emceed by Canadian Olympic Medalist Curt Harnett, served as both the team presentation and a fundraising auction, with all proceeds going to support the UCI Continental-registered team’s programming in 2010.
Up for grabs was one of Bauer’s yellow jerseys from the 14 days spent in yellow at the Tour. The specific jersey being auctioned was the final yellow jersey of Bauer’s cycling career. He remarked that the idea came to him while watching the Olympic torch relay making its way to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. He thought if it was his goal to see another Canadian in a yellow jersey, then he too, should pass the torch.
This marks the third year for Team Spidertech powered by Planet Energy (known as Planet Energy last season) and true to Bauer’s goal, 13 of the 15 riders on the squad are Canadian. Furthermore they race aboard Canadian Argon 18 bikes and are backed by a diverse partnership of Canadian companies including Spidertech, Planet Energy, Saputo, Catalyst Capital Group and Blackberry.
Team Spidertech powered by Planet Energy has grown in size for 2010. “We added depth, specifically depth in youth.” Bauer sought riders that would help the team in the sprints and on the climbs, essentially scooping up the best young talent Canada had to offer, “Guillaume Boivin, Simon Lambert-Lemay and Stephane Cossette are all strong and very fast and David Boily has lots of potential. We first saw Flavio de Luna Davila at Telmex and he can climb.” Bauer feels that these five, despite their young age — all are 20 years old — have begun to show great potential.
The current Canadian U23 National Champion, Boivin joined the team as a stagiare last fall and along with the rest of the team helped Martin Gilbert to a win on stage 7 of the Tour of Missouri.
Gilbert — who was still a full-time university student last year — decided to put school on hold and returns focused on success in 2010. The bulk of the team is also returning, including former Canadian National Champions Francois Parisien and Andrew Randell, sprinter Keven Lacombe, Ryan Roth, Bruno Langlois, Eric Boily, Mark Batty and Charly Vives.
The team has also acquired former Slipsteam rider Lucas Eusar for 2010. Eusar who showed great promise while at Slipstream is on the comeback trail after being hit by a car while training. Eusar said he was originally attracted to the team because of their focus on longer, harder UCI level races as opposed to NRC crits.
“My first impressions of this team are amazing. It really reminds me of where Slipsteam was three or four years ago,” Euser said.
Parisien, a teammate of Eusar’s on TIAA-CREF echoes those sentiments and believes they have the drive and resources to mimic Team Garmin-Transistions’ rapid rise to the top. “We want to show ourselves in Europe, we want to be aggressive. We have top climbers now, top sprinters and the best support riders.”
Randell agrees, “Our goal as a team is the UCI level races. We want to be in Europe and that is the way to do it.”
The team hopes that their success in Missouri will lead to an invite to the Tour of California in May. In preparation Bauer will have the team racing at the Vuelta a Cuba, Vuelta Independencia Nacional in the Dominican Republic and the Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay.
“We need our guys to race,” states Bauer “North America lacks spring stage races and it’s not in the budget to go to Europe for that long. When we go to California, we need to be ready.”
While California remains a big objective, June and September will also be very important months for the team. June brings the TD Bank International Cycling Championship, Tour de Beauce and Canadian nationals. The team will then travel to Europe in August contesting stage races like Tour of Ireland, Tour de l’Ain and the Tour du Limousin in order to be on top form for the ProTour races in Montreal and Quebec City in September.
Both the Quebec City and Montreal courses are quite familiar to members of the team and although Bauer concedes the competition will be tough, he knows that the courses will lend themselves to breaks forming, “You never know, a group of 15 could get away and that could be it. We want to be aggressive, we want someone in that group.”