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Cannondale-Drapac owners to launch crowdfunding campaign to try and secure team's future

Riders and staff released from contractual obligations after Slipstream Sports reveals "uncertainty" over financial backing...

Slipstream Sports, which owns the Cannondale-Drapac UCI WorldTour team, is to launch a crowdfunding campaign to attempt to secure its future. The news comes after the team revealed it may fold at the end of the season due to difficulties in obtaining sponsorship and has released all riders and staff from their contractual obligations for 2018 to allow them time to find new teams.

The company has set up a webpage on which people who want to back it can register their interest. It says: "When we shared the news of our uncertain future, #GreenArgyle fans responded with an incredible show of support.

"Inspired by your feedback, we are in the process of crowdsourcing a fundraiser that we hope will allow us to continue our cycling team for the 2018 season.

"While we get all our ducks in a row, please register your interest in officially joining the Slipstream Sports family for the upcoming season.  

"A tiered structure will offer rewards to all individuals and businesses that contribute a minimum donation of $100."

The company, whose CEO Jonathan Vaughters has long urged reforms in professional cycling to make teams less reliant on sponsorship for their income, said yesterday it remains “hopeful” that it can secure new backing and continue to race next season.

However, few would take the decision to allow riders including Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran, who has just signed a contract extension to 2020, Classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke and Giro d’Italia and Tour de France stage winner Pierre Rolland to be free to seek alternative teams as an encouraging sign.

In statement released on Saturday, Slipstream Sports said it had “notified all riders and staff of the uncertainty of our organisation’s future.”

It revealed that on Friday, its management had “received some discouraging news about a new partner we anticipated joining us in 2018,” and that without that support, “we cannot guarantee our financial security and subsequently our UCI WorldTour licence.”

The statement continued: “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,” Slipstream Sports said. “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.

“We remain steadfastly invested in keeping this team alive. We believe in our team ethos, and we believe in the dedicated, passionate, hard-working and talented group we have assembled. We have several opportunities that we are exploring, and while we remain hopeful, we are not comfortable exposing our staff and riders to the uncertainties of our future – which prompted the team-wide email this morning [Saturday].

“We've overcome incredible odds for over a decade and can do it again, but we need someone to step forward and fill in that last piece of the puzzle,” the statement added.

“It would be an incredible bargain, that’s for certain. We are open to any conversations with new financial partners and supporters at this time.”

Vaughters founded the team as an under-23 development squad in 2003.

In 2005, it secured UCI Continental status and, after racing at UCI Professional Continental level in 2007 and 2008, moved up to the UCI WorldTour in 2009.

Garmin was its longest standing sponsor, backing the outfit for seven seasons commencing in 2008, with the team racing as Garmin-Sharp from 2012-14, the longest period its name remained unchanged.

High points include Ryder Hesjedal’s 2012 Giro d’Italia overall victory and Dan Martin’s wins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2013 and Il Lombardia the following year, a season in which Andrew Talansky also clinched the overall at the Criterium du Dauphiné.

The team also secured stage victories at all three Grand Tours, most recently at last month’s Tour de France where Uran won the ninth stage.

David Millar, who spent the final seven seasons of his career with the team, won a stage in their colours at the 2012 Tour de France.

That year’s overall winner, Bradley Wiggins, had made his Grand Tour breakthrough with Garmin-Slipstream at the 2009 race, when he finished fourth overall, later upgraded to third following Lance Armstrong’s disqualification.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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