'No stress' over EF Education First-Drapac future as major sponsor pulls out ahead of 2018 season

Oath withdraws sponsorship just four months after deal announced

The future of the EF Education First-Drapac team will not be affected by the withdrawal of a major sponsor ahead of the 2018 season, according to team boss Jonathan Vaughters.

Oath, the digital media company behind the likes of Yahoo and Huff Post, was only announced as a team partner in July, but has now backed out of a deal that was due to begin at the start of the 2018 season.

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Neither Slipstream Sports, the company behind the Cannondale-Drapac team which will be known as EF Education First-Drapac for 2018, nor Oath provided any explanation for the split, with Oath issuing a statement saying that although it "will no longer be working with Slipstream, we wish the Cannondale-Drapac team success for the 2018 season."

The team's future had been in jeopardy in August after another major sponsor pulled out, leaving the possibility that the team could close for the 2018 season. However the squad was rescued by the arrival of EF Education First as a replacement title sponsor.

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The loss of another key sponsor in Oath had once again raised questions over the team's future, but Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters said in a tweet that there was "no stress" over the breakdown of the deal.

When it was announced on July 21, the deal between Slipstream Sports and Oath was described as giving the team "the potential to reach over one billion consumers globally" with Vaughters saying that it would give people the chance to "see us better, to get to know the riders, the staff, and what it takes to be in pro cycling. And we want to use our position as professionals in the realm of the everyday cyclist, too."

Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide

Vaughters has also recently called for more stability in professional cycling, including a franchise system that would make teams less reliant on sponsors.

"Structurally there is a problem that needs to be corrected. Fans of Manchester United or the Denver Broncos don't worry about them just going away. It's not something that fans are used to or can understand," he told Reuters.

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"There are a number of different ways to go about it. One is cost control, or financial fairness, which is what I call it. The other is creating a structure where franchises are guaranteed the biggest races such as the Tour de France.

"If there is a guaranteed entry into those races in the lifetime of the business, then at that point you have created a limited market, you have created scarcity and when you create scarcity sponsors come in and gravitate towards that scarcity."

"What we have now is if you come up with 20 million pounds you can start your own team, there is no scarcity of the commodity. It's just a matter of who can scrounge up the money, whether they come up from a very disreputable source or a reputable source, it doesn't matter."

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.