LONDON (Reuters) - The Cannondale-Drapac World Tour cycling team have announced a boost in their fight for financial survival after a public campaign to raise money for the cash-strapped outfit.
A statement on Wednesday from Slipstream Sports, the holding company behind the American team, said consulting firm Fairly Group had pledged a $2 million (1.54 million pounds) in match-funding after cycling fans reacted to their plight with a crowd-funding scheme.
A page on the Slipstream Sports website invites individuals and businesses to contribute a minimum of $25 in return for “rewards” such as team merchandise and rides with the team.
“I‘m overwhelmed by the response and level of support at the grassroots level,” former rider Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports, said in a statement.
“There are hundreds of thousands of fans across America and the world who want to see Slipstream continue to create a platform for America’s best riders to compete, and they have inspired us and Fairly Group.”
The Fairly funding, based on matching offers by other fans and businesses, would help fill some of the $7 million shortfall in the team’s finances after a sponsorship deal for 2018 fell through. Cannondale-Drapac have told its riders and staff they can break their contracts and look elsewhere for work.
Colombian Rigoberto Uran, second in the Tour de France behind Chris Froome, is the team’s highest-profile rider and would not be short of offers from rival teams.
Three Americans rode in the green colours of Cannondale-Drapac at this year’s Tour - Taylor Phinney, Nathan Brown and Andrew Talansky.
“American pro cycling has a rich history of competitive excellence and Slipstream has carried the torch for many years,” 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.”
The team is currently riding La Vuelta.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams