Cannondale-Drapac found a new sponsor and Michael Woods finished seventh at the Vuelta a Espana headlining a very good weekend for the American WorldTour tour team managed by Jonathan Vaughters.
The announcement over two weeks ago that there was a seven million euro gap in Slipstream Sports funding lead to uncertainties whether the team would continue in 2018. On Friday, Slipsteam Sport announced that management had secured a new title sponsor for 2018 and beyond in EF Education First. The family-owned global education company will eventually become the majority owner of Slipstream Sports.
“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,” said Edward Hult, CEO North America of EF Education First. “It aligns perfectly with EF’s mission of opening the world through education and our commitment to bringing different cultures together.”
During the frantic search for a sponsor, the team set up an Indigogo page which attracted donations from thousands of fans who wanted to contribute to helping the team continue. “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,” Huff explained about EF Education First’s decision to back the team.
As of Monday morning, #SaveArgyle raised US$557,970 thanks to 4600 backers. Fans can still make contributions and the team intends to put the funds raised to work.
“Given the feedback we’ve received from our backers, we will be using this money in 2018,” Vaughters said when asked about the crowdfunding donations. “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.”
The continuation of the team was good news for staff and riders alike. Amoung those committed to staying are Rogoberto Uran who finished second at the 2017 Tour de France, Classics specialist Sep Vanmarke and Ottawa-native Woods.
After finishing seventh overall when the Vuelta concluded in Madrid on Sunday, Velonews reported that Woods had signed a two-year contract with Vaughters. “[Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters] believed in me before any WorldTour team and the chance he took on me meant a lot and is a big reason why I’m so happy to be re-signing,” Woods explained to VeloNews. “The team has played a huge role in my development as a rider and is a place where I feel at home.”
While Woods entered the race targeting stage wins, his ride to secure a top-10 general classification finish had him seriously considering targeting the GC in Grand Tours in the future.