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What is EF, the company that saved Slipstream Sports?

Joe Robinson
11 Sep 2017

We look at the company that saved Slipstream Sports - the owners of Cannondale-Drapac, and what this means for the team

Slipstream Sports - the company behind Cannondale-Drapac - confirmed the rumours that the team had been saved when it was unveiled that EF Education First would be coming on as primary sponsor.

As Cyclist reported last week, Jonathan Vaughters and his men in argyle had managed to find a new sponsor for the Cannondale-Drapac team, helping them continue in the WorldTour for another season.

Additionally, as we thought, this is the new primary sponsor’s first venture into the world of professional cycling.

In light of the news, we ask who are EF Education First and what does this mean for Slipstream Sports?

Who are EF Education First?

When we were first informed as to who would be saving Slipstream Sports, our initial reaction was a shrug, what's EF Education First?

True to the rumours, this will be the company's first venture into the world of professional cycling sponsorship, meaning a new logo adorning the pro peloton from 2018.

As for a role in the WorldTour, its place seems more natural than first thought.

Founded in Sweden, based in Switzerland, EF Education First is an international education company with a clear ‘mission statement’.

The focus lies within the boundaries of language training, education travel and cultural exchange.

EF Education First looks to provide worldwide access to a second language, but beyond the realms of what is usually expected.

Rather than just an online course with some additional print resources, EF looks to immerse you in the language.

With courses for school children up to adults, the goal is to have you learn a language faster, on two to 24 week courses based in a country with the language you are learning as their first.

Beyond this, the options for learning go a step further with EF organising full exchanges from six to 11 months combining language and a year of academic study.

Although a slightly strange combination at first, what better place to promote a language-based company than professional cycling.

Cyclists often fail to get the recognition they deserve when it come to their bilingual talents. Seldom do you see a rider unable to speak confidently in at least two languages, with most being competent in three or four.

Even those with a mother tongue completely obscure from western European languages like Russian Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) can chat in Italian and English.

Slipstream Sports itself, although an English-speaking American based team, have two star riders with a mother tongue that is not English.

Spanish speaking Rigoberto Uran and Flemish speaking Sep Vanmarcke manage just fine surrounded predominantly by English speakers.

Edward Hult, North American CEO of EF Education First recognised straight away the value of this multi-cultural peloton.

‘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 said.

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

What better role models for a multilingual lifestyle than a sport that contains hundreds of multilingual athletes?  

What does this mean for Slipstream Sports ?

First and foremost, this deal secures the immediate future of Slipstream Sports, its riders and staff.

The concerns surrounding 2018 have now dissipated, with all contracts being honoured for next season. The deal will see Slipstream Sports remain within the WorldTour, continuing its eight year stay at cycling’s highest level.

Additionally, this swift save has prevented the exodus of high-profile talent that loomed large.

Tour de France runner-up Uran originally gave the team two weeks to find a new sponsor, and with this deal has now confirmed his future is with the men in argyle.  

Alongside Uran, Vanmarcke and Michael Woods - who just rode an impressive Vuelta a Espana - are confirmed to be staying at the team.

Besides the new primary sponsor name, current sponsors Cannondale and Drapac will continue their partnership with the team, helping provide secondary sponsorship.

Beyond the near future, the deal that Jonathan Vaughters has managed to secure with EF should establish the future of this team for the long term.

Other than the usual parameters of sponsorship, EF Education First is set to become the eventual owner of Slipstream Sports.

This purchase should, in theory, secure the team’s place in the WorldTour for future seasons.

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