Rapha Condor, which revealed yesterday that consumer electronics business Sharp would no longer be sponsoring it, has wasted little time in announcing a replacement in the shape of international insurance broking firm Jardine Lloyd Thompson, or JLT for short.
The team will race next year as Rapha Condor JLT, and will include existing star names such as former British national champion Kristian House – the last non-Team Sky rider to win the race, in 2009 – plus double Olympic team pursuit champion Ed Clancy, as well as a host of up-and-coming young talent.
Both the existing sponsors, who have now spent six years in partnership backing the team, welcomed JLT on board, with Simon Mottram, founder and CEO of Rapha, saying: “After a successful season with the team it is wonderful to have attracted another global company to cycling and to help us continue our journey developing younger riders.”
Grant Young from Condor Cycles added: “We can’t wait for the 2013 to start, this is the next chapter in an exciting adventure for British cycle sport and the team. I am pleased we can work with another sponsor who understands our approach, ethics, passion for developing the sport from the grass roots up to the sky.”
The ending of Sharp’s sponsorship with the team run by John Herety results from its decision earlier this year to focus its marketing efforts in cycling on UCI ProTeam Garmin Sharp, but it’s clear from yesterday’s announcement that the parties have separated on good terms – presumably helped by the fact that the team had another backer waiting in the wings.
It was Charlie Pearch, a senior partner in JLT’s London office and described as a longstanding fan of the Rapha Condor team, who saw the opportunity for the company to play a role in supporting the team, but he says that his firm’s involvement aims to go beyond focusing just on elite sport.
‘‘Our participation in this venture with Rapha Condor fulfills our desire to help sport at grass roots level, particularly where our involvement can deliver meaningful value,” he explained.
“We not only want to encourage the younger generation to live a healthy lifestyle but to be a voice of mutual respect between all road users.
“ Our expectation is that the Rapha Condor JLT team will continue to perform well under the most respected of Directeur Sportifs but it is as important for us that the team races with style and panache and in its own well-loved and inimitable style to represent the very best of British cycling.”
Ahead of the 2012 season, the UCI Continental team changed its focus to place a strong emphasis on youth, and that will be even more pronounced in 2013, with Dean Downing the highest profile departure after six years with the outfit.
Commenting on the new sponsors, team manager John Herety said: ““I am delighted that JLT share our enthusiasm about the way that this team aims to work with young riders. JLT understood this very quickly and they recognised that in the current environment in cycling a team like ours will educate young riders into making the correct choices.
“I have been really pleased with the progress that these riders have made in the last twelve months, and I think that next year we will start to see the results of the work that these young guys have put in as they put into practice what they’ve learned.
"We have redesigned our programme with the new young riders in mind, putting a focus on getting these guys racing and winning, and I am sure that it will be a great year.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.