Quite suddenly, Cannondale-Drapac is on the brink of collapse.
“We need $16M to have a good team. We are $7M short. And the first name is open.” team CEO Jonathan Vaughters told VeloNews on Saturday, indicating that the primary naming rights for the team are available.
Almost exactly one month after its best Tour de France ever, where Rigoberto Uran finished second and took home a stage win, Vaughters’s team announced a major funding shortfall heading into the 2018 season.
“Yesterday management received some discouraging news about a new partner we anticipated joining us in 2018,” the team said in a statement. “Without this partner’s support, we cannot guarantee our financial security and subsequently our UCI WorldTour license for 2017.
Asked if he has any leads that may be able to fill that funding gap, Vaughters responded simply: “Some. Yes.” He did not elaborate.
Slipstream Sports, the organization behind the team, has released all riders and staff from their 2018 contracts. It remains hopeful, however, that it can find the necessary funding “in the next few days,” the team said. All 2018 contracts will be honored if funding can be secured.
Riders’ agents were notified last Friday and the team was informed as a whole on Saturday morning.
The team has few viable paths forward beyond finding the necessary cash. Dropping to Pro Continental status, for example, is not possible due to the ways its current sponsor contracts are structured. They are predicated on the team’s inclusion in the WorldTour, and thus its inclusion in the Tour de France.
The funding gap appears to have manifest abruptly. The team recently announced that it had extended its contract with Uran for an additional three years.
All of the team’s current sponsors remain. That includes Oath, a new sponsor announced during the Tour de France, Cannondale, Drapac, and POC.
“These sponsors have lived up to their promises; however, without additional financial backing, the numbers simply don’t add up,” the team said.
“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. 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.”
Riders began to react to the news on Saturday afternoon.