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EF Pro Cycling agrees unusual new deal with Rapha for 2019

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

EF Pro Cycling Rapha

To the fore in the new deal between Rapha and EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale is the production of team videos through next season. And some of the riders won’t limit themselves to riding road races.

 

EF Pro Cycling in unusual new deal with Rapha

 

Having been saved from the jaws of extinction last year after a crowdfunding drive, the EF Pro Cycling team has agreed a new partnership with Rapha.

The new deal not only involves the luxury clothing brand coming back to WorldTour level. It also means changes for EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team, to give it its full name.

According to Rapha, the team won’t restrict itself to riding road races next year. Instead some of the riders will compete in mix terrain events, fixed great criteriums – like those promoted under the ‘Red Hook’ banner – and other events.

All of the team’s racing and behind the scenes action will be recorded in “content” – which means Rapha photos and videos.

It’s an interesting move clearly designed at bringing Rapha to audiences beyond those interested in pro road racing. And it aims to cultivate an image around the team as an outlier in the sport.

How the riders will be greet the news is unclear as they build their seasons around road racing only.

Some observers will likely welcome what appears like an interesting shake-up to how a WorldTour team approaches its calendar.

But Rapha and the EF Pro Cycling will inevitably to be open to the charge they are experimenting with riders’ careers.

And the fact Rapha made the announcement first, rather than the team, will only bolster a perception the changes are being driven by commercial interests.

However, the gravel racing scene has really take off, especially in the US, in recent years. Fixed great crits are also very popular.

And it will be very interesting to see how the EF team’s riders perform in races outside their road speciality. It is also possible the team will sign riders with proven records in these new areas of racing.

 

 

Rapha said it was “thrilled” to be back to WorldTour level with a team that has “refused to conform” and that “rides with character”.

“Together, we share a desire to disrupt the status quo of the sport we love,” the clothing brand said of the new partnership.

“Next year, we will create content that revolutionises the way professional cycling is portrayed and presented.

“The team will flip the script on the calendar, with riders not just competing in the WorldTour but also fixed gear criteriums, ultra-endurance races, and mixed-terrain events.

“They will go beyond the barriers, taking you to the outskirts of racing. And Rapha will be there, documenting every stroke of the pedal.”

It would produce media content “on the team bus, with the riders running the show”. And videos would be produced “at the roadsides, bringing the culture of ‘Grand Tourism’ alive on your screens”.

Rapha said the moves had come about after an exhaustive research project commissioned by it on the future of cycling.

EF Pro Cycling said Rapha had made over 300 short films since its inception. Furthermore, some of its riders already had relationships with the brand and would feature in more films next year.

“This coverage will be coupled with live events in Rapha clubhouses and other venues around the world, building on the local cycling communities that the brand has been developing since the company’s inception,” the team said.

Team boss Jonathan Vaughters added Rapha was a “great partner” for the WorldTour outfit.

“We aim to open up cycling to a wider group of people; we’re interested in exploring all aspects of the community, from racing and its core fans to the people who just got on bikes,” he said.

“By bringing some of our athletes to grassroots and mainstream races across the world, we’re hoping to deepen the relationship between our team and other riders, and have some fun while we’re at it.

“We’re also going to give people more insight into the sport than before, showing a rare, unvarnished perspective of these athletes’ lives.

“The human element of cycling is very, very powerful. And as for the kit… we look forward to building on the strong visual identity forged by POC and bringing our style into a new chapter. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

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