UCI WorldTour team facing uncertain future after sponsor blow

UCI WorldTour cycling team Cannondale-Drapac has announced that its riders and staff are free to pursue other options for the 2018 season in the wake of a key sponsor withdrawing its plan to invest in the squad.

The US team has told the Cyclingnews website that it needs to secure in the region of $7m (€5.93m) in order to continue next season. Cannondale-Drapac last month hailed a new partnership with US digital media company Oath.

Oath, a Verizon subsidiary, will have its brand on the US team’s racing kits and vehicles during the 2018 season along with engaging in wider digital content initiatives with the outfit. The identity of the sponsor that is said to have withdrawn from a deal has not been formally disclosed, but it is reported to be betting firm Unibet.

In response to speculation concerning its future, the team issued a statement on Saturday evening regarding what lies ahead for Slipstream Sports, the holding company that owns Cannondale-Drapac.

The statement read: “On Saturday morning, Slipstream Sports notified all riders and staff of the uncertainty of our organisation's future. Yesterday management received some discouraging news about a new partner we anticipated joining us in 2018. Without this partner's support, we cannot guarantee our financial security and subsequently our UCI WorldTour license for 2017. 

“We remain hopeful that this situation may resolve itself in the next few days and that the team may find new financial backing; however, without this guarantee, we felt an obligation to the individuals who make up our team to notify them of our current situation and give them time to look for their best options. All Slipstream Sports staff have been released from any and all contractual obligations for 2018. All 2018 contracts will be honoured if our future is secured.

“We want to be clear. All of our current sponsors and partners (Cannondale, Drapac, Oath, POC) have remained committed to support our team in 2018. These sponsors have lived up to their promises; however, without additional financial backing, the numbers simply don't add up.”

Cannondale-Drapac’s star rider is Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran (pictured), who recently signed a three-year contract extension in the wake of his finish as runner-up to Team Sky’s Chris Froome at the Tour de France. Cyclingnews added that team manager Jonathan Vaughters is in the process of establishing a crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to save the outfit.