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Cannondale-Drapac owner Slipstream Sports reportedly saved by mystery new sponsor

Joe Robinson
8 Sep 2017

Jonathan Vaughters and Cannondale-Drapac live to fight another day thanks to finding sponsorship

Slipstream Sports, the company behind WorldTour side Cannondale-Drapac, have reportedly secured sponsorship for next season, ending the possibility of the team ceasing to exist next year.

A source close to the team was unable to name the sponsor but did suggest that the financial backers will be from outside of the bike industry, and that this will be their first venture into a professional cycling sponsorship.

Whether this company will supply the full $7 million said to be needed to save the team is unknown, but it is expected to be a sizeable amount therefore securing primary naming rights of the team.

The sponsors could be unveiled as early as tomorrow, with the staff and riders having already been informed of the news.

Background story

Last month, team manager Jonathan Vaughters announced that an inability to obtain financial security for next season had but the team's future in doubt. 

Vaughters also announced that all riders and staff were relieved of any contract requirements in 2018 and free to seek a new home. If the team managed to find new backers, the team would honour any existing contracts. 

Immediately riders came out in support of the team, with Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran announcing he would give the team two weeks to find new sponsorship.

Unlike Uran, Sep Vanmarcke announced he would be looking for a new team immediately. Just this week, team stalwart Andrew Talansky announced his retirement at only 28-years-old.

In a bid to save the team, many different avenues were explored with social media taking on the quest to secure new sponsorship for Slipstream Sports.

One stream of revenue that Slipstream explored was crowdfunding. With the Fairly Group promising to match donations up to $2 million, current backing stood at $2.4 million after just one week. 

Lessons learnt

Whilst many will breath a sigh of relief over the saving of Vaughter's men in argyle, the near miss and financial woes of Cannondale-Drapac will hopefully act as a lesson for the professional peloton and sport in general. 

Slipstream Sports and Vaughters in particular have always been vocal in terms of their fiscal concerns in cycling. The rising cost of running a WorldTour cycling team continues to grow. 

Whilst Team Sky and UAE-Team Emirates play with an abundance of riches, teams like Cannondale-Drapac function on almost half the budget of their wealthy rivals. 

This inequity is creating a visible divide in the professional peloton. Teams can keep up when it comes to the biggest races, but it is at smaller races where the suffering is felt. 

An increased schedule sees teams racing three races in one weekend and for the many, this is unattainable. Those with the deep rosters propped by big wage budgets can manage and mange well. 

If lessons are not learnt from this near-disaster for Slipstream then this threatens to become a regular occurrence. 

The longer the gap beaten team budgets grow, the harder it will be for each team to keep up. Creating a domino effect, teams are then less likely to secure sponsorship due to a sheer lack of big results. 

This has been the case in other professional sports and it is slowly becoming the case in cycling. Just look at football or Formula 1 for an example.

With money talking, the rich few manage to cherry pick the best talent and before you know it, we will only have a handful of teams with genuine contenders the world's biggest races.

Hopefully, once Vaughters confirms this suspected news, he amongst others will be able to work towards making cycling a more sustainable sport.  

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