Jonathan Vaughters, the CEO and team manager of the Cannondale-Drapac team, has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he is optimistic about securing a new major sponsor that will ensure the future of the US-registered WorldTour team and help it better compete with the super teams of the peloton, such as Team Sky, BMC and Quick-Step Floors.
"We're pretty close to finalising everything. I don't want to jinx things but we hope to have everything in place by Paris, but no big announcement is planned for now," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
He refused to reveal the name of his possible new sponsor but confirmed that an American media company is interested.
"We've been working really hard on it, and we had some really great leads. We're pretty close to be able to make an announcement," he said.
Vaughters is back at the Tour de France and will stay until Paris after trips away, presumably for key meetings with his likely new sponsor.
Last month the Slipstream management company admitted that "the team's budget is extremely limited and has been for several years, forcing cuts in areas such as sport science and aerodynamic testing. In order to provide the proper level of support to our riders, we will continue to search for further backing."
Vaughters wrote an article for Business Insider called 'Pro cycling is the best sponsorship deal in sports that brands are missing out on.'
He described how a deal with Netflix fell through in June 2014 but insisted that the massive entertainment company had made a bad decision. It was a clear pitch to possible investors for the team. It appears to have worked.
The Cannondale-Drapac team have enjoyed a solid season so far after two years without a WorldTour victory. Andrew Talansky won a stage at the Tour of California and finished third overall. Pierre Rolland won a mountain stage at the Giro d'Italia. Roberto Uran won stage 9 of the Tour de France and is currently fourth overall, just 29 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome. He is a real contender for victory in Paris if Froome should stumble. Froome has named the Colombian as his biggest threat to a fourth Tour de France victory.
Vaughters has often had to fight to keep his team alive due to the precarious nature of professional cycling.
Twenty-five per cent of the team's equity was sold to Cannondale in 2015, and Vaughters convinced Drapac to become an important second sponsor in 2016. He has been forced to find new funding due to Cannondale stepping down from a title sponsor position in 2018.
Despite reports in France linking Cannondale to a French squad for 2018, Vaughters said he fully expected the bike brand to continue working with the team, even if new funding is secured.
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