I know what you’re thinking. “What the heck is Spidertech?” Unless you are Canadian or a pro cycling geek, you really shouldn’t know. Spidertech used to be a Canadian-owned Continental Team, which means they race in smaller UCI-sanctioned events like, for example, the Tour of the Med, which is rolling by my doorstep this week. They sometimes get wildcard spots in big races, too. Europcar is a good example of a successful team in this regard. You see these guys in so many big televised races that most people have no idea that they are not in the World Tour division.
Anyway, everything seemed to going pretty good for Spidertech since they started up in 2011, but in October of last year they decided to pull the plug on the team (sort of) and take a rest for a year! It’s not a bankruptcy; it’s not a disbanding of the team even. Weirdly, they state that the reason is because of a lack of ‘sustainable corporate sponsorship’, but claim that they will take this year to try and gain entrance to the coveted World Tour ranks in 2014. It seems to me to be a little counter productive to expect to jump up the ranks of divisions without any results in the previous year. I suppose you can just buy your way in then?
What intrigued me about all this was how the story highlighted the incredible job insecurity pro cyclists have. All these guys had raced the 2012 season for Spidertech only to be told they can’t ride anymore – in October, which is very late in the game to find another team. In their defense, Spidertech (run by Canadian cycling legend Steve Bauer) will pay the salaries of all their riders through 2013 and try to find teams for them, but still, some of these guys will not be riding on a pro team this year, and one year in a cyclist’s career is not a small thing.
But some have found teams, including a Canadian with a pretty European name – François Parisien. This guy, out of the blue, got a call from Argos-Shimano - a World Tour team based in Holland – and suddenly he’s gone from a nearly-thirty-year-old unemployed cyclist to a nearly-thirty-year-old cyclist riding a dream, on a team that races all the big events in the calendar, with a chance at racing the Tour de France – something nearly impossible with Spidertech. A happy ending at least for him.
Hopefully there’ll be more happy endings for his former teammates, and the team as well. I’m not a great patriot, but a part of me would love to see a Canadian team racing in Europe….eh!