UCI WorldTour team launches crowdfunding campaign to secure future

Slipstream Sports, the holding company that owns Cannondale-Drapac, has confirmed the launch of a crowdfunding campaign designed to secure the future of the UCI WorldTour cycling team.

At the weekend, Cannondale-Drapac announced that its riders and staff were free to pursue other options for the 2018 season in the wake of a key sponsor, reportedly betting firm Unibet, withdrawing its plan to invest in the squad.

The US team has said it needs to secure in the region of $7m (€5.93m) in order to continue next season and a crowdfunding campaign had been mooted as a means to secure its future. Launched on the Indiegogo platform yesterday (Wednesday), Slipstream said its #SaveArgyle campaign will seek to raise at least $2m.

As part of this effort, business advisory firm Fairly Group has made a seven-figure commitment to Slipstream Sports and, along with other key supporters, has issued a “match challenge” that starts out with up to $2m.

“American pro cycling has a rich history of competitive excellence and Slipstream has carried the torch for many years, having developed many of America’s best cycling talents and taken them to the Tour de France,” Alex Fairly, president of the Fairly Group, said. “Our ethos is built on our willingness to step into our client’s most difficult challenges, and our goal in making this commitment is to provide a spark that continues to ignite the flame of support for America’s best pro cyclists competing on cycling’s WorldTour stage."

Every dollar donated to the #SaveArgyle Indiegogo campaign, up to $2m, will be matched by Fairly Group and other key supporters. A tiered reward structure offers perks from $25 to $50,000 that include insider content, #SaveArgyle kit, donors names on the sponsor page of the Cannondale-Drapac website, invites to ride with the team, team bikes and invites to training camps, races and into the team car.

Donations will only be processed if the team continues in 2018 and the Indiegogo effort had reached $232,496 from 1,850 backers this (Thursday) morning. If fully successful, the matching offer would raise $4m of the $7m needed.

“More so than the actual money, what that says is people are invested in this team,” Jonathan Vaughters, chief executive of Slipstream Sports, told the VeloNews website. “The fans are invested not only emotionally, but they’re invested and willing to see this team go on.

“I never thought that we would see that level of funding come in. It’s flattering. But of course, my true hope is that a corporate sponsor looks and says, ‘Hey, wow, there’s a lot of love for these guys. Maybe we need to jump on this.’ Because people are speaking with their wallets, which is really nice.”