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Cannondale-Drapac saved as EF Education First comes on board as main sponsor

Privately-owned education company will take majority stake in team’s management company

Cannondale-Drapac will continue racing in 2018 and beyond after confirming that EF Education First is to become its main sponsor.

The news comes a fortnight after team owner Slipstream Sports released all riders and staff from their contracts after a previously planned sponsorship deal with Unibet fell through, leaving the team with a $7 million shortfall in its budget.

EF, which is privately owned and based in Lucerne-Switzerland, will also take a majority stake in Slipstream Sports whose CEO, Jonathan Vaughters, said that the support shown by fans who raised more than $500,000 in a crowdfunding drive had been crucial in securing the new backing.

“This partnership would not have come off without the fan support,” he said. “That groundswell showed a level of engagement that enticed potential sponsors to step forward.

“The world we live in is all about engagement. It’s not about pure numbers. It’s about ‘are you really reaching your audience?’ and our crowdfunding proved that our fans are engaged — engaged all the way into their wallets.

“That’s incredibly special and humbling. That demonstrated to the world that this team is an entity that people love and support. We could not have gotten this deal had our fans not mobilised the way they did.”

Edward Hult, CEO North America at EF Education First commented: “We are honoured to begin working alongside Slipstream Sports, Cannondale, Drapac, and all of the wonderful partners at Slipstream Sports to keep our cyclists riding into 2018 and for years to come.

“We were inspired to step in and become the team’s title partner, and will become majority partner, after learning about the #SaveArgyle campaign and witnessing the incredible outpouring of support from fans around the world.

“We have been moved by the powerful way that cycling unites people of diverse backgrounds in a peaceful, fun, and friendly way to achieve extraordinary athletic feats,” he added.

“It aligns perfectly with EF’s mission of opening the world through education and our commitment to bringing different cultures together.”

From next season, the UCI WorldTour outfit will be renamed Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale.

Vaughters said: “I’m incredibly happy and also exhausted.

“These last two weeks, I’ve put in more hours working than I ever have and fewer hours sleeping – that’s telephone calls, meetings, flying here and there. I’ve been holed up in a hotel all week in New York. I’m exhausted but I’m also so happy and so proud.

“I’m proud of how the organisation held it together through all this – the riders, staff, sponsors, fans,” he added. “Every single minute I’ve worked on this was so worthwhile.”

Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran, who recently signed a new three-year contract, will remain with the team and Vaughters said: “We didn’t lose any more riders than most teams lose in a normal transfer season.

“While I’m not in a position to comment on the full make-up of our squad for 2018, I’m excited to share plenty of contract news in the coming weeks.

Regarding the crowdfunding campaign, he said: “Given the feedback we’ve received from our backers, we will be using this money in 2018.

“We’re exploring several different options as to where these funds can best be used to bolster our efforts next season, as well as funding post-career rider education, and we look forward to communicating this with everyone when decisions have been finalised.”

Meanwhile, the campaign remains live on Indiegogo, with Vaughters explaining: “While our needs have changed with EF coming aboard, this campaign offers #GreenArgle fans the opportunity to support this team.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Al__S | 6 years ago

Ah, sponsored by the unstoppable hoards of pink back-pack wearing euro teens spilling across roads and cycleways in Cambridge all summer

RobD | 6 years ago
1 like

It's a shame it came so close to the wire that some riders will have left, they seemed to be getting themselves together and getting some good results this season, hopefully they'll be able to build, and from some of the things that have been said their budget may grow a little which may help them to compete against some of the mega teams. If they can follow a similar path as sunweb seem to have done, with growing success it could make them a great team again.

Dunkeldog | 6 years ago
1 like

If they're a Swiss company Rob Hatch is going to be in a pronunciation tailspin with this. Look forward to it.

700c replied to Dunkeldog | 6 years ago
Dunkeldog wrote:

If they're a Swiss company Rob Hatch is going to be in a pronunciation tailspin with this. Look forward to it.

Lol. His OTT pronunciations will make it sound exotic I'm sure!

Hadn't realised he was broad Yorkshire until I heard him interviewed. You can't deny his language skills, but now knowing the commentator voice is put on to give him some extra gravitas is somewhat off putting.

Still better than Kirkby though!

check12 | 6 years ago

Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, catchy! 

WashoutWheeler replied to check12 | 6 years ago

check12 wrote:

Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, catchy! 

That is as maybe, but I am sure you will agree, it rolls of the tounge a whole lot better than "150 staff and riders from the Cannondale team unemployed" Good job JV.

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