Dra­pac pre­pares rid­ers for life af­ter pro­fes­sional cy­cling

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS - LUKE GRIF­FITHS

Michael Dra­pac will watch this year’s Tour Down Un­der as a cy­cling fan, rather than a team owner.

The Ed­u­ca­tion First — Dra­pac p/b Can­non­dale team that fin­ished sixth in last year’s TDU will race in this year’s event, which starts in Ade­laide on Tues­day, as Ed­u­ca­tion First af­ter Dra­pac sold his share.

Dra­pac, an avid cy­clist who first put a team to­gether in 2003, has opted to in­stead fo­cus his at­ten­tion and money on the third-tier Con­ti­nen­tal Tour through his Dra­pacCan­non­dale Holis­tic De­vel­op­ment Team.

“We sold Ed­u­ca­tion First our sub­stan­tial in­ter­est and I think the more we got to know each other, the more we recog­nised we were go­ing in one di­rec­tion and they were more in­ter­ested in an­other di­rec­tion,” Dra­pac says.

“I think with Ed­u­ca­tion First be­ing such a big com­pany … ul­ti­mately they wanted to con­trol the ship them­selves, but it was a friendly part­ing of ways.

“I was more in­ter­ested in fo­cus­ing on well­be­ing, not that they’re not, but when you’re fund­ing a big team your pri­mary con­cern must al­ways be to win races.

“As I’ve be­come more and more in­volved with the sport, I re­ally en­joy the grass­roots more than any­thing else and my on­go­ing in­volve­ment in the sport will be more and more in grass­roots.”

It’s at the grass­roots level where Dra­pac be­lieves he can best in­flu­ence young ath­letes and help set them up for life af­ter cy­cling.

He has long been a vo­cal critic of pro­fes­sional sport­ing bod­ies’ lack of ac­tion in this re­gard, in­clud­ing cy­cling’s over­ar­ch­ing Union Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale.

“Most sports are giv­ing lip ser­vice to the prob­lem,” Dra­pac says. “I think we en­tice, al­most co­erce in some ways, young men and sell them the dream of be­com­ing a full-time bike rider when they’re 17 or 18.

“In­vari­ably they’ll al­ways go back to be­ing ‘nor­mal’ peo­ple, but very often they don’t have the skills or foun­da­tions to REED be able to do that year well.”

Dra­pac cites ex­am­ples of ath­letes go­ing bank­rupt soon af­ter they re­tire, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing drug or al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, or, at worst, com­mit­ting sui­cide.

“One of the prob­lems with sport in Aus­tralia is that suc­cess is only mea­sured by the num­ber of medals some­one has around their neck,” he says.

“That doesn’t hap­pen in the real world. For the most suc­cess­ful com­pany, there’s more met­rics than how much money it made: were they so­cially re­spon­si­ble and eth­i­cal, for ex­am­ple.”

To be on Dra­pac’s de­vel­op­ment team, rid­ers must be en­rolled in a uni­ver­sity or a recog­nised ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity.

SARAH

Will Clarke rid­ing for Dra­pac last

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.