New Japanese partners will join EF Pro Cycling for 2021, with the U.S.-registered team racing under a new banner as EF Education-NIPPO starting January 1, team officials confirmed Wednesday.
The NIPPO Corporation, a Japanese construction conglomerate, has long backed European racing, including the NIPPO–Vini Fantini–Faizanè team racing the Giro d’Italia on three occasions, but the move marks the company’s first sponsorship deal at the WorldTour level.
The company also has strong links to the vibrant Japanese track racing culture, and has built 90 percent of Japan’s velodromes.
“It is the first time for NIPPO Corporation to participate in the WorldTour, and we are thrilled and excited. It’s a new adventure for us,” said Hiroshi Daimon, director of sport for NIPPO Corporation. “We are excited to contribute as much as possible to furthering the success of the EF Pro Cycling team across the world.”
No financial details were revealed, but it will help bolster the team’s future following a challenging business environment in 2020 for title sponsor EF Education First, which came on as title sponsor in 2018. In 2020, the team was forced to reduce salaries and lay off some staffers as the coronavirus pandemic forced the international peloton to shut down from March to August.
The announcement comes after the team has recently signed Nippo-Delko-One Provence riders Julian El Fares, Fumiyuki Beppu and Hideto Nakane.
“Our team comes from far and wide, and the same is true for our partner family. There is a freedom and freshness on our roster and in our thinking between our partners since we all come from so many different places in the world. I’m very proud of that fact,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “With NIPPO Corporation joining us as a title sponsor next season, we will only add to our global approach to professional cycling and exploration.”
In addition to three Nippo-Delko-One Provence riders, officials said other staffers will be joining the team as part of the new partnership.
“We hope that the Japanese athletes and technical staff, from mechanics, to soigneurs who join the team, will gain more experience and contribute to the development of Japanese cycling,” Daimon said. “We can’t wait to race as EF Education-NIPPO in 2021.”
In addition to EF Pro Cycling, NIPPO will also sponsor Nippo-Provence-PTS Conti, a Swiss-based continental team with riders from Switzerland, Ethiopia, France, Japan, Norway, and Poland.