Steve Bauer is one of Canada’s most celebrated of road men. In his years as a pro, he was famous for winning a bronze medal at the Worlds and wearing the coveted yellow jersey at the Tour de France. When he was on Team Motorola, he also made himself famous for riding a radical, never-before-seen and never-again-used Eddy Merckx “low-rider” at Paris Roubaix in 1993. The bike stood out due to its incredibly laid-back seat and head angles, the idea being to let him get further behind the pedals so as to exert more power over the cobbles. Today, Steve is the director of the Pro Continental Spidertech-C10 team, and we caught up with him to find out what the latest was with the Canadian effort.
RBA: What’s the history of Steve Bauer?
I turned pro in 1984 after competing in the Los Angeles Olympics. In 1984 I earned a bronze medal at the Worlds in Barcelona, and after that I was hired by La Vie Claire. Over the next few years I rode for the Toshiba and Helvetica-Swiss teams, and then joined 7-Eleven in 1990. That was the year that I wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for nine days. That was also when 7-Eleven was going away, and I think [7-Eleven manager] Jim Ochowicz used that to show Motorola the kind of publicity they could get with cycling, and they signed on. I rode with Motorola through the ’95 season, rode for Saturn in 1996, and then raced in the Olympics in Atlanta that year as a bookend to my career.
RBA: Can you give us some background on the Spidertech team?
: We started a local team out of Ontario, Canada, back in 2008, and in the short time since, we’ve ramped it up to Pro Continental status. Right now we have a good opportunity to get even stronger next year with a goal of gaining WorldTour status in 2015. Making the WorldTour grade is a tall order, and we still need to build our organization, but we have some good interest with some business guys who are also proud Canadians and want to see the team grow. It’s interesting to see how the sport is getting nationalized with teams like Sky [Great Britain] and GreenEdge [Australia]. I wish we had more Canadian riders coming up, but after the Pan Am games in 2013 (in Ontario), I think we’ll start seeing more. We want to be a legitimate Canadian team with good Canadian content and rise to the position of being selected for the Tour de France.
RBA: As an up-and-coming team, what’s your opinion on how the sport is evolving in respect to the so-called “super teams?”
I think a real balance has yet to be struck with the UCI, the teams and the races. The UCI is trying to stabilize and looking at the valuation of the teams. Right now the big-money teams are hiring successful riders away from small teams to get their points, but the teams that developed them and helped get them the points lose out and get nothing in return. You also wonder about the sustainability of some of these teams given the current market conditions. Look at Highroad, a really successful team, but when their price rose to 100 million [Euros] for four years, that was a big ask!
RBA: So what do you recall about that special Merckx bike?
Yeah, that bike was something, eh? The idea for it came from some old local Belgian rider that was killing everybody on it, and somehow news of it got to the team and we had one built up. I think the seat angle was about 67 degrees or something. I got the bike in the winter, so that by the time Roubaix came up, I had gotten plenty of time on it. It worked completely different muscle groups than a bike with standard geometry, so that’s why I needed the extra time on it to train my muscles to work specifically for the frame design. That thing was like a Cadillac on the cobbles, but overall it was not a good bike because it lacked the versatility of a standard road bike.