Slipstream Sports, owner of International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour outfit Cannondale-Drapac, has named EF Education First as the team's new title sponsor.
The team will now be known as Team EF Education First-Drapac presented by Cannondale from the start of the 2018 cycling season. EF Education First, which is privately owned and based in Lucerne, Switzerland, will eventually become a majority owner of Slipstream Sports.
Cannondale had long revealed its intensions not to renew its title sponsorship. In August, an agreement with Slipstream Sports’ planned replacement sponsor Unibet fell through, which left the team with a US$7 million shortfall in their budget. This led to an announcement during the recent Vuelta a España that their riders have been released from their contracts.
Fans of the US-based squad raised more than US$500,000 through online crowdfunding, which Jonathan Vaughters, chief executive of Slipstream Sports, admitted “enticed potential sponsors to step forward”.
“Because this deal extends beyond traditional sponsorship, the terms of the deal are fluid,” said Vaughters. “For now, I can say that we’ve agreed to terms for the next several years and that both Slipstream Sports and EF see this as a long-term partnership.
“I’m proud of how the organisation held it together through all this - the riders, staff, sponsors, fans. Every single minute I’ve worked on this was so worthwhile.”
Edward Hult, chief executive in EF Education First, added: “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.”
Vaughters did not specify which of the 28 riders and 50 staff members would remain on the team but he did confirm that Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran, who recently signed a new three-year contract, will be retained.