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Team SpiderTech, the pro cycling team put together by Canada's former Tour de France star Steve Bauer, has become the first Canadian cycling team to earn a Professional Continental license from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). It's a step toward getting a Canadian-based pro team on the Tour, Bauer said.

"It has been a challenging mission for our company to gain division two status, however it is a critical step forward in our long-term goals to compete on the World Tour and the Tour de France," Bauer said in a statement.

The SpiderTech team, which features World Cup silver track medalist Zach Bell, was approved by the UCI in Aigle, Switzerland and can now participate in highly-ranked UCI races around the world. The team of 13 Canadian and three other North American riders is sponsored by SpiderTech Inc. and a consortium of Canadian corporations known as C10.

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SpiderTech, BlackBerry, NRS Brakes, PineTree Capital, Planet Energy and Saputo are the initial members of the C10 consortium.

The team has been invited by race organizer Serge Arsenault to compete in the two UCI World Tour events held in Canada - the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal - alongside the top 18 pro tour teams of the world. Arsenault called the approval of a Canadian pro squad "historic" for the sport.

Veterans on the team are Mark Batty, Martin Gilbert, Keven Lacombe, Bruno Langlois, François Parisien, Andrew Randell, Ryan Roth and American Lucas Euser and the three under-23 riders, David Boily, Flavio De Luna of Mexico and Guillaume Boivin, who won a bronze medal at the world cycling championships in Australia last October.

New faces on the 2011 roster are world silver medalist Bell, Canadian road champion Will Routley, and Ryan Anderson, all three from British Columbia. Rounding out the roster are the Canadian under-23 time trial champion, Hugo Houle from Québec and Pro Tour veteran Pat (Jonathan) McCarty from Texas.

For the spring, a three-month campaign in Europe debuting in February is currently being planned. The team will complete this campaign with the Presidential Tour of Turkey.

The team returns to North America with the goal to race the Amgen Tour of California, TD Bank International Classic Philadelphia, and Tour de Beauce.

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James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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