Kelly in team sponsor hunt
One Pro among UK teams seeking new sponsors
Multiple British and Irish UCI Continental teams are rushing to get big sponsorship deals signed off before the UCI’S end-of-the month deadline.
An Post Chainreaction, Raleigh-gac and One Pro are all seeking new sponsors with varying degrees of success.
Irish post office An Post is stepping away from a long-running association with cycling, having ended its sponsorship of the Rás this year, and now it will cease to support Sean Kelly’s team after a deal that lasted nine years.
When asked by CW if he was confident of getting a deal done before October 31, Kelly said: “When you sign a contract you have a deal done. There were one or two that I was confident enough with; it’s looking OK but you can’t say.”
No clear picture
He added: “Brexit didn’t help the situation with some of the sponsors that we have spoken to. There is no clear picture there and they are just waiting. When you’re doing a two or three-year deal, uncertainty makes it difficult.”
However, Kelly added that vocal support from recent riders that have developed with the team, such as Bora-hansgrohe sprinter Sam Bennett, who told the Irish Times last week that the team had “prepared me in the best possible way for the Worldtour” had been beneficial in helping persuade sponsors to back the squad.
In the UK, Raleigh-gac, which has known the historic Nottingham bike brand would cease to back the squad since the beginning of the year, is close to signing a multi-year deal.
Team principal Cherie Pridham said: “The team is going ahead, it’s a completely clean sheet of paper for us. It’ll be new kit, new equipment and a new start on a new project and there will be some changes, which will be driven by some of the sponsors involved.
“I don’t want to say too much at the moment; for us the priority is getting the UCI paperwork through and hopefully we’ll pull that off by October 20.”
She added: “In recent weeks there’s been a skip in my step that I haven’t had since I decided to take things through with this team [in 2014].”
Pridham added that the team, which this year failed to gain entry to the Tour of Britain, would mostly be made up of young riders but that she was also hoping to bring on bigger names. “I’ve not committed to anybody but I have a couple of people that I’m talking to,” she said.
She added that the deal was yet to be finalised. Raleigh UK is understood to be scaling back its involvement in the performance road bike market.
One Pro Cycling is also understood to be on the cusp of signing a new multiyear sponsorship deal with financial firm San Lam. The team stepped down to Continental level earlier this year and co-founder Matt Prior has previously stated it would move back up to Procontinental in 2018 but the team was not on a list of 26 applicants for Pro-conti licenses released by the UCI last week.
But the multi-year deal with San Lam, which it has partnered with for charity rides with in the past, would be structured for the team to progress to Pro-continental level in 2019 and then through the ranks to the Worldtour.
Cycling Weekly understands several riders are leaving the squad at the end of the year for various reasons, including brothers George and Will Harper, Tom Stewart and former Garmin-sharp rider Steele Von Hoff.