On September 8, Cycling Canada hosted a cocktail on the eve before the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. Scott McFarlane, Silber’s GM, was invited to speak about the team’s legacy and say a few words of thanks to major contributors. Here’s what he said:
Thank you to Cycling Canada for hosting this opportunity for all of us to come together to celebrate the sport that we love.
It is often said that if you want to get things done, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know…
In many cases that adage does not apply but in the case of Silber Pro Cycling, it’s true. The team would not have existed and would not have succeeded if I hadn’t met Gord Fraser, Kevin Field and Arthur Silber.
Gord has been the team’s full-time Sports Director since 2015. He’s had a Hall of Fame career as a racer, and he’s also directed some of North America’s best teams ever. Gord’s most important contribution to our team, however, has been his ability to coordinate riders, staff and equipment in a way that made us a professionally run racing program. In our second year under Gord’s leadership, Silber Pro Cycling was arguably the best team in the Americas, with our now instantly recognizable orange branding.
In fact it was Gord who introduced me to Kevin Field right here at the GPCQM in 2013. That meeting initiated a working conversation that came to define the professional quality of all our daily operations and the team’s annual goals. What Gord did for the team on the road, Kevin did for us as an advisor behind the scenes.
For those who don’t know, Kevin has been involved in many teams, including what are arguably the 3 most important teams in Canadian history: Symmetrics, SpiderTech and (I’m biased here) Silber Pro Cycling.
Since the day I met him, I have leaned sooo hard on Kevin for advice on EVERYTHING to do with running our team–and I can prove it. Kevin loves spreadsheets and data… I have so many of his spreadsheets that I now need an expensive dropbox plan to hold them all. These files and hundreds of phone calls helped me with General Management, Marketing, Business Operations, Human Resources, scouting… essentially, EVERYTHING. Importantly, he also helped me get a clear sense of the team’s vision and mission within the Canadian context. So thank you to Kevin and to Cycling Canada for providing him with a platform from which he can help individuals, teams and partners succeed by surrounding them with international networks of support.
Aside from Gord and Kevin, our team could not have happened without Arthur Silber. Arthur, Michael Wolfe, Harold Stotland, and I have all financially supported and helped manage this team. All our companies are represented on the Silber jersey: Michael’s Mandevco Properties, Harold’s J Hamelin Industries and my cycling facility, Toguri Training. But it’s Arthur’s family name that our riders wear on their chests. And I’m really proud of the way that all of us–Gord, Kevin, Michael, Harold, Arthur and I–were able to represent the Silber name and ensure that it has a place in cycling history.
Here are just a couple examples of Silber’s legacy: Since 2014, Arthur’s financial support helped create a focal point for Canadian men’s road racing. We fielded teams full of national champions which won 132 races. In five years of operation, 31 different riders went through the program and 5 received pro contracts: That means if you were a member of SPC, you had a 1 in 6 chance of becoming a professional. And if one other rider gets a pro contract this year, (discussions are ongoing) our legacy will be to have graduated 1 in 5 to the pro conti level.
The beneficiaries of Silber Pro Cycling’s success extended beyond individual athletes. We elevated the visibility of Canadian cycling itself with our team racing in major events with over 40h each year of tv broadcast and streaming that reached a minimum of 60 countries, and often over 100. We also helped Cycling Canada to re-establish Canadian road development. As the “go to” team in Canada, we served to inspire juniors and U23 riders to continue in the sport and to see what it took to race at a higher level.
We literally helped the U23 national team grow. After the demise of SpiderTech in 2011, the presence of U23 riders at Worlds was negligible or non-existent. Teams like Silber and SpiderTech produced enough UCI points to qualify Canadian U23 teams of 4-6 riders at Worlds–which elevates the visibility of our entire development streams. Our riders have now been selected 18 times to represent Canada at the WT races this weekend… and a Silber rider has animated at least one of the races each year… so an orange helmet better be in the break tomorrow! No really, get in the break. [Ed. Note: Adam Roberge and Charles-Étienne Chrétien, both of whom were present, got into the break the next day ensuring the streak continued].
The impact of teams such as Silber is huge and at the Conti level most often born of a passion for the sport. This is why it is extremely important to understand the importance of the Silber name–a family name–and its legacy. If you want a sense of Arthur’s passion for cycling, I invite you to visit his facebook newsfeed. You will see a stream of food and wine photos consistently peppered with shots of cycling with friends and his wonderful partner, Jody Banister. But here’s the thing: all those photos of food are really about cycling. Seriously. Arthur often posts a picture of dessert but describes it in relation to how it will affect his bike ride the next day. So cycling is always on his mind, even if it NEVER stops him from photographing and then eating that cake! The key here is that Arthur’s passion for cycling connects to his adventurous love of food, travel, friends, Jody and the dreams of young cyclists–many of whom are in the room today. These adventurous connections are part of the Silber legacy and they are full of passion and caring.
To conclude, I’m sad that Silber will cease operations this year but I’m proud of our legacy and feel privileged to have met so many riders and those who have made the team possible. There are some that fear the sky is falling when news of teams folding hits the airwaves. Strangely, I feel optimistic about the future of road racing and the possibility of current or new teams filling the void. This year 3 x more people participated in the national road championships than MTB and Track. We’re consistently producing a critical mass of incredible racers, and I believe there are a record number of Canadians participating in the World Tour races this weekend. The bike industry is now multi-vectored with new kinds of bikes constantly entering the market and defining the movement of people through our cities. This makes it a very exciting time to be involved in the sport because cycling is becoming more integrated in the lives of more people. The challenge now is for all of us to better tell the story of the role of road cycling in this new mix so that we can better support young riders and build a new legacy by doing so. Arthur has done more than his share towards this end. On behalf of all of us who have ever worn the Silber name, thank you.