Kelly in team spon­sor hunt

One Pro among UK teams seek­ing new spon­sors

Cycling Weekly - - Contents - Vern Pitt

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.

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