Cannondale-Drapac 'super-optimistic' of securing major new sponsor before end of Tour de France

Cannondale are expected to withdrew their title sponsorship from the American WorldTour team

Pierre Rolland celebrates victory after stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia 2017

(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

American WorldTour team Cannondale-Drapac are "super-optimistic" of being able to welcome a major new sponsor in the next week.

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports which owns the team, told a small group of reporters on the Tour de France's second rest day in Le Puy-ev-Velay that he hopes to be able to announce a major cash injection before the end of the race.

In June Vaughters confirmed that Cannondale would be remaining a major backer of the team, but the bike company is no longer expected to be a title sponsor.

"We are working on it and we have got some really great leads," said Vaughters, whose team car guest on stage 15 was the former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

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"I'm very optimistic at this point in time. Ideally, there will be some sort of news on that before the end of the Tour. There is one American company, a media company, that is interested."

Asked whether or not the said company would come in as a title sponsor, Vaughters replied: "They can come in at a number of different levels. The whole situation should be clarified pretty soon. I am super-optimistic."

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In a statement last month, Slipstream said: "The team’s budget is extremely limited and has been for several years, forcing cuts in areas such as sport science and aerodynamic testing.

“In order to provide the proper level of support to our riders, we will continue to search for further backing.”

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The team have enjoyed a good run of form and results in the past couple of months: after going a well-documented two years without a WorldTour win, they won a stage at the Tour of California, Giro d'Italia, and most recently at the Tour de France with Rigoberto Uran's victory on stage nine.

The latter is currently fourth in the general classification standings, and Team Sky's Chris Froome, the race leader, has singled the Colombian out as the biggest threat to his yellow jersey.

Vaughters, however, said that new financial injection isn't dependent on the team's performances. "People overplay the value of that," he said. "97 percent of signing a new sponsor up is selling them on the sport of cycling, the last three percent is convincing them of your team.

>>> Vaughters: Cannondale could compete with Sky if we had 70 per cent of their budget

"We focus on the sport. You have to get them to understand the sport. They may say 'why am I going to do this and not sponsor the World Cup?' That's the first battle."

But new cash is required, he said. "We just want to be more competitive next year. It's tough to be competitive when you're always have to scrimp on little things.  I hope something comes through as it's painful wanting to run a WorldTour team on 30 percent of what Sky do it on. It's f***ing painful, to be honest."

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