Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Rapha returns to the WorldTour thanks to new partnership with EF-Drapac

Joe Robinson
8 Oct 2018

Brand will supply kit to American WorldTour team while also working on tackling the 'challenges facing road cycling'

Rapha is set to end its two-year hiatus from the men's WorldTour as it announces a new partnership with EF-Drapac for the 2019 season, in a deal that it claims will 'revolutionise the way professional cycling is presented.' 

While Rapha will assume the expected role of kit supplier with what it calls 'the most technically advanced and visually striking clothing in the professional peloton', it will also draw upon its experience in creative content as it looks to produce video insiders of the team throughout the season.

Rapha will attempt to showcase the individual stories of the team's riders. The press release announcing the partnership went on to state that, 'Coverage will include regular shows from inside the team, with some developed and presented by the riders themselves.

'Cameras will follow the racers on a year-long journey through the most interesting events in cycling, offering a new window into all aspects of the sport.'

The reason for this decision to become more than just the brand that puts clothes on the riders' backs is because of a two-year study that Rapha conducted 'into the future of professional cycling.' 

After commissioning four academic experts around the world who, in turn, interviewed 50 stakeholders within the sport of cycling to find the 'opportunities and challenges facing road cycling at large', the British-based brand found that the sport could benefit from converting more cyclists into fans of the sport.

With that in mind, 'Rapha and EF will celebrate the team’s characters and heroes, and will explore not only the traditional heart of cycling in the Grand Tours and Classics but also bring new formats and disciplines into focus.' 

EF-Drapac riders, including the likes of Taylor Phinney and Rigoberto Uran, will also participate in ultra-endurance events, city-based criteriums and mixed-terrain all-road races in a bid to appeal to the wider net of cycling. 

EF-Drapac team manager, Jonathan Vaughters, commented on the partnership understanding the importance of building the sport's fan base.

'Rapha is a great partner for us, from their world-class kit to the cycling culture we both want to help grow,' the team boss said.

'We aim to open up cycling to a wider group of people; we’re interested in exploring all aspects of the community, from racing and its core fans to the people who just got on bikes.

'By bringing some of our athletes to grassroots and mainstream races across the world, we’re hoping to deepen the relationship between our team and other riders, and have some fun while we’re at it.

'We’re also going to give people more insight into the sport than before, showing a rare, unvarnished perspective of these athletes’ lives.

'The human element of cycling is very, very powerful,' Vaughters added.

Rapha and EF-Drapac will be hoping this partnership brings an end to what has been a difficult period for both brands. 

This time last year saw Vaughters fighting to continue the Slipstream Sports team as sponsorship woes almost saw the American team disappear.

After a period of crowdfunding and assitance from high-profile figures, Education First eventually fronted the money to continue the team in a lengthy deal.

Rapha has also found itself restructuring recently with the high-end brand letting as many as 80 staff members go in an attempt to 'reduce costs, and consolidate and strengthen [its] position.'

The brand also converted its print magazine Mondial into digital-only while the brand has also scrapped its travel business.