Drapac to end EF sponsorship, will return to development program

Drapac steps down from role as co-sponsor of Slipstream team to focus on development program that will work closely with EF.

After two and a half years sponsoring the Slipstream Sports WorldTour team, Drapac Capital Partners will refocus its cycling efforts on its development team.

A statement issued Wednesday confirmed the move will occur at the end of 2018. It also noted that Michael Drapac’s team will continue to work closely with the EF Education First team. The Australian development outfit will continue to serve as a feeder for the American WorldTour outfit.

“I’m proud that my philosophy on athlete development has had a positive influence on EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, and that the team will continue to support the wellbeing program in the future,” Drapac said. “It is my hope that in five years’ time all WorldTour athletes would have the opportunity be exposed to holistic development in some way throughout their career.”

Drapac’s philosophy prioritizes education equally with racing. Riders must be enrolled with a university to be part of the development team. Their racing schedules are then tailored to accommodate school.

Australian James Whelan is one example of a rider who started his career with Drapac. The 22-year-old won the under-23 Tour of Flanders this year. He now has a three-year contract with the EF team.

EF Education First-Drapac team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said he’s expecting to see more talented young riders come up through the ranks via Drapac’s program.

“Working with Michael and the rest of the Drapac team has been a great experience. I very much admire the Drapac approach in the development of young athletes, allowing them to focus on sport and competition while still making space for academic and intellectual development,” Vaughters said. “I’m excited to have James [Whelan] on the team next season, and I’m confident we’ll work together in the seasons to come to bring young riders into the World Tour the right way.

“And our entire organization thanks the Drapac group for their sponsorship and belief in our approach as well.”