Three year JLT sponsorship for Rapha Condor team: Herety says team has solid future
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Friday, December 06, 2013

Three year JLT sponsorship for Rapha Condor team: Herety says team has solid future

by Shane Stokes at 9:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
No major concerns despite decision of Rapha to exit sponsorship at end of 2014 season

Ed ClancyFar from being pressurised by yesterday’s news that Rapha will wind down its backing of his team after the 2014 season, Rapha Condor JLT manager John Herety is upbeat about the future of the squad, not least because of a new three year extension confirmed today.

Herety told VeloNation that JLT has decided to extend the backing it started in 2013 by a further three years, giving the British squad a very solid financial base up to the Rio Olympics and for the remainder of that 2016 season.

“It is business as usual. JLT have signed for another three years. It’s unheard of at this level for a sponsor to come in and make a commitment that far in advance, so we are very happy," said Herety. "JLT’s reason is that they want to back Ed Clancy [multiple Olympic and world championship gold medallist – ed.] until Rio, and he has signed with us until then.

“They came in at the start of 2013 on a year deal, a kind of toe-in-the-water situation, and were very happy with things. They are a massive insurance brokers and want to build on the team from this year and try to maximise their involvement.”

The team released the news yesterday that clothing manufacturer Rapha would not stay on past 2014. While Herety was quick to applaud the significance of Rapha’s contribution since it got involved, he said that there was no danger to the team’s future.

“They have been a fantastic sponsor for us over what will be nine years when they finish. It doesn’t affect the team at all,” he said. “JLT are in for three years, so we are okay. We will be searching for another sponsor to top up the budget, but that’s fine – we have time to do that.”

In the press release announcing Rapha’s departure at the end of next season, the company explained why it was changing tack.

“Road racing and riding in the UK have been transformed since Rapha and Condor started our partnership in 2006,” said the CEO Simon Mottram. “Who would have thought that we would have two Tour de France victories, gold medals and so many people riding regularly?

“Both Rapha and Condor have grown and developed in that time as well. Our eight years together have been really important to Rapha, helping us become established as a legitimate fixture of the UK racing scene. After eight years the cycling market and our business have changed and we have decided that having a UCI registered Continental Racing team is not the best way for Rapha to contribute to the UK racing scene.

“We are exploring other ways in which Rapha can usefully invest in UK racing and further plans will be announced shortly.”

He added that Rapha regarded 2014 as being a “year of celebration” for the brand and the team, and that the company would contribute more in the final year.

Condor Cycles is on board for two more seasons and its CEO Grant Young said that he enjoyed working with Rapha. “The ‘men in black’ have achieved more success than Simon and I ever could have imagined when we started this project. It has been great to help and watch a brand that started with just three items grow and revolutionise cycle clothing. I am of course sad that Rapha have chosen to leave this partnership but understand that their commitments have evolved.”

Herety told VeloNation that rather than finances, a bigger challenge will likely be ensuring that the team has the same strong brand image in 2015 and beyond. It had a distinctive ‘look’ under Rapha and part of the task is to reinvent the squad with whatever clothing partner comes on board then.

Busy racing season planned in 2014:

Herety has a busy time ahead with regards racing commitments; he will fly to Australia right after Christmas, leaving on December 26th, and get ready for the start of the Bay Crits on January 3rd. That will be the first of many overseas fixtures for the team, with the next being the New Zealand Cycle Classic from January 29th to February 2nd, then the Herald Sun Tour in Australia from February 5th to 9th.

Further ahead, the team will do a range of other overseas races, with events in Europe, Azerbaijan, Japan, Korea and elsewhere all likely to be on the schedule.

“It’s probably a bit more hectic this coming year,” he said, speaking of the travel plans. “We are looking forward to all those races. The Tour Series will of course be important again, as well as the Tour of Britain and the An Post Rás in Ireland.

“We’ve brought in guys like Chris Opie, Graham Briggs and others, and hopefully a great year is ahead. Another goal is the continued support of Ed [Clancy] in his quest to go through Rio, including the qualification processes in World Cups. We want to make sure there is a smooth pathway for him.”

Herety decided a couple of years ago to change the focus of the team and to concentrate mainly on developing young riders. He saw that there was a gap there between the amateur level and the WorldTour squads like Sky, and realised that there were limited chances to progress for good under 23 competitors.

That goal remains a focus for him. “I really want to get a rider to the next level. My staff seem to be doing it, moving up, but we’ve yet to bring someone through to the WorldTour level. That is the big goal.”

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