Posted by Editoress on 10/4/18
Earlier today, the news started to spread like wildfire - Floyd Landis was going to launch a team that would replace Silber Pro Cycling using the money he got as a whistleblower against Lance Armstrong, and from his cannabis company, Floyd's of Leadville. This was all based on an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal - and the facts weren't quite correct, as it turns out.
We have since spoken with Scott McFarlane - a founding owner of Silber and one of the owners of the new project - and team director Gord Fraser, so here is what is really happening.
Scott McFarlane: "My involvement in the project was contingent on two things: Firstly, the team had to be registered in Canada; that way the team would have a majority of Canadian riders, and we could protect the idea that the team is developing Canadian riders. It's the main reason that I'm involved in the sport at this level.
"The second thing was that I wanted the team to participate in other parts of cycling. I feel this is the way for a road team to go; to participate in gravel events, cyclo-cross events and grand fondo events. This way we would be able to promote cycling. People talk about the decline of road racing - it still attracts massive audiences, but it also has the ability to better engage the growth sectors of the industry.
"Our riders already do these races - Stephen Bassett just won a gravel race, and Danick Vandale just won a cyclo-cross race in Manitoba. The team has to kind of embrace that and try to incorporate the multi-vectors of cycling; road is just part of all these different vectors, and the team should embrace that because there are so many opportunities for rider development and market development. What's crazy is that one of the first things Floyd Landis said was that, and I was taken aback, because I was about to pitch that to him.
"Gord and I are steering this with Josh Saint, an American co-owner. These things are what allowed me to continue and be part of the project."
But what about working with Floyd Landis - former team mate of Lance Armstrong, and a rider who had his Tour de France win stripped from his shoulders for doping?
"It's a good story, in the sense that, I feel, we are taking money from one of the darkest periods of cycling and Floyd - who could use this money personally, who could use this money in his business - is using it to help create a platform for young cyclists. He's put the money back into the sport and not profiting from the Armstrong settlement [note: Landis says that the rest of the settlement money has gone towards restitution for people that put money into his defence fund]. I think that's a good story.
"One thing to make clear is that he has not bought Silber Pro Cycling. This is a different business entity and he is a sponsor. He will not be responsible for any governance of the team, and it is important to note that this is not Silber Pro Cycling."
Fraser explained, "I invited Floyd to see a stage in Colorado in our team car. He liked what he saw and he wanted to help and become involved. It's a new team, but continuing on the mission statement that we started with at Silber, and that's to foster and develop new Canadian talent."
McFarlane says that he expects they will start to sign riders in a couple of weeks. "At this point, the new team only includes Gord [Fraser]. We will be interested in hiring some former Silber riders, but at this point there have been no contracts offered because we are still getting our structure fully in place before we do any contracts. So, at this point there are no riders on the team. Gord and I have made lists, but haven't had any final discussions. Within about two weeks at the latest we'll start to talk [about riders].
"We will have fewer Canadian positions, but we should also have a roster that is more competitive against the Pro Conti teams we will be racing against. We are just working on getting as many Canadians involved in the project in the most effective way. The team will be the same size as Silber budget-wise, but with fewer riders.
"There won't be a women's component. It's too bad, but I feel like we just pulled something out of a hat, so before we consider expanding and take on a women's project we need at least a couple of years."
Fraser: "I'm definitely familiar with the athletes we had [at Silber], and we had a good run of development with a lot of the guys, and we are interested in keeping that going. But, there are a lot of factors involved, and a lot of guys available [after teams such as Jelly Belly and UHC folded]. So, it's a matter of seeing what's out there and what interest there is from other riders. That's the fun part of the job; constructing a team. So, we're going to have our hands full over the next couple of weeks. If we can keep a couple of the guys we have invested in, in the past couple of years, it would be a great thing."
McFarlane says the team will compete in many of the same races Silber did.
"We will do the UCI calendar, and expand our calendar with other events. But the focus remains trying to get riders to the next level on the road. But in a time of declining race calendars and growth in other areas, the team has to go after those other developing areas and incorporate them, and take them seriously.
"We also need to have more talks with Cycling Canada and the FQSC [Quebec federation] because we will be Montreal-based, and see if we can incorporate any of their interests into the project. I'd like to talk with them about expanding the calendar to include some racing in Europe, for example. That will affect some roster decisions also."
Fraser agrees, "We want to keep supporting the North American race promoters; it's a tough time, with a lot of teams not existing next year, which the North American promoters will feel. But we will also look to see if there is any foreign stuff that makes sense for us. But it's a little too early to say exactly what it will be.
"We can continue the work we've done in the past five years, which is give a platform for guys to develop and race their bikes, and perhaps have a career in cycling. It's not a bad thing to keep that going."
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