The British clothing company will be returning to a WorldTour team after splitting with Team Sky in 2016
Riders from WorldTour team EF Education First-Drapac are set to ride a series of “alternative” events such as the Three Peaks cyclo cross race and the Transcontinental ultra-endurance race, as part of the team’s new partnership with clothing brand Rapha.
James Fairbank, central marketing director of Rapha, said the “alternative calendar”, as its being called, “was built out of the WorldTour calendar being so confusing”.
He added: “There might be an EF rider at the Three Peaks next year. We’re looking at the Leadville 100 [mountain bike race], [gravel race] Dirty Kanza and trying to use this alternative calendar to generate more engaging stories around characters on the team. EF are all quite individual.”
Fairbank said that some times riders would approach these events looking to get a good result but other times it would be mostly to add variety into their training or just be for fun.
On the Transcontinental race, he said: “It would be amazing if we could convince one of their athletes to do it at the end of their season.”
He added that they currently had a long list of 22 different events.
The exact events and who will ride them is yet to be decided and will need to be done in a way that will not endanger the team’s racing commitments.
The plans form part of a new partnership between Jonathan Vaughter’s EF Education First-Drapac team and Rapha that will also see it provide kit and produce videos, articles and other content.
It is the first time the British brand has returned to the WorldTour since its sponsorship of Team Sky finished at the end of 2016.
Rapha will continue to sponsor Canyon-SRAM alongside its deal with EF Education First.
Fairbank said the brand had done quite a lot of research, including commissioning a 36,000 word report, on how it could best get involved in top-flight men’s competition again and concluded that the sport needed to do more to “work harder to bring personalities out and characters out”. Hence it led it to develop the alternative calendar idea.
The first technical clothing influenced by the sponsorship of the team and that will be available to the public is expected to be unveiled around the Tour de France in July.