EF Education First, the new name sponsor of the current Cannondale-Drapac team, will also "eventually become majority owner of Slipstream Sports," the team’s management company has confirmed.
On Saturday afternoon, the team announced that the Swedish firm would be the new sponsor of what will be called Team EF Education-Drapac p/b Cannondale.
The team will retain Rigoberto Uran and Sep Vanmarcke as team leaders and have a similar budget for the 2018 season before the funding from the new sponsor and the eventual new ownership comes to fruition. The team confirmed it will use the funds raised via the #SaveArgyle crowd funding campaign to help the team with science and technology in 2018.
"We are honored 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," said Edward Hult, CEO North America, EF Education First, in the team's press release.
"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," Hult added. "It aligns perfectly with EF's mission of opening the world through education and our commitment to bringing different cultures together."
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters called EF Education First "the perfect partner", fitting in with the philosophies of Slipstream and Drapac.
"Drapac's focus is athlete education, athletes being healthy and whole, having options in life," Vaughters said. "That's what these guys at EF are all about. Education is what they do. They're about breaking down cultural barriers and teaching people how to communicate. It's a sponsor that feels socially relevant in this day as the world becomes increasingly global and communication among cultures becomes more critical. I think it also matches the ethos of Slipstream Sports. I couldn't ask for a better fit."
Vaughters credited the fan support and the support that the crowdfunding effort attracted. "That ground swell 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 mobilized the way they did."
Vaughters gave further information in a Q&A interview.
Q: How did the connection with EF Education First come about?
I reached out to Philip and Edward Hult, who along with their father Bertil, privately own EF, several times in the last few years. Based on what I knew about EF, I thought they would be a great fit alongside our other sponsors – and I'm happy that the more I learn about EF and the people behind this organization, the better and better the fit seems.
When EF learned about the #SaveArgyle campaign from a colleague, they decided to dig a little deeper. They weren't very familiar with the world of professional cycling, but all the details they unearthed impressed them. They discovered clear overlap between our story and mission and their own, and things have unfolded from there.
Because this deal extends beyond traditional sponsorship, the terms of the deal are fluid. 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.
That's the idea over the long-term. Next year, our operating budget will be similar to what it has been for the last several years.
Q: You released riders and staff from contracts two weeks ago and then recently said all 2018 contracts will be honored. Did you lose anyone in those two weeks?
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.
Q: Is Rigoberto Uran staying with the team?
Yes. His three-year deal stands – as does his goal to win the Tour while in argyle.
Absolutely. The ways our fans mobilized was a major attraction to EF. I cannot thank our fans enough for helping us secure this deal.
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 finalized.
Q: Is the Indiegogo campaign still open for business – and if so, why?
Yes, our crowdfunding campaign is still online and active. While our needs have changed with EF coming aboard, this campaign offers #GreenArgle fans the opportunity to support this team. If you want in, we want you. Get involved here: https://igg.me/at/save-argyle
Yes, yes. You will still get your #SaveArgye mug – and we're delivering more than the promised perks, so stay tuned for that news!
We're still working on that – but it's definitely happening. All of us here at Slipstream Sports are very much looking forward to meeting all of you who backed the #SaveArgyle movement when we needed you most.