Rapha and EF Education First have announced a new partnership to ‘revolutionise the way professional cycling is presented… with the aim of taking a disruptive approach to the sport throughout the 2019 season and beyond.’ The move marks Rapha’s return to men’s WorldTour professional cycling after a two-year hiatus.
Rapha will bring its creative credentials to EF Pro Cycling, and together the apparel specialist and pro cycling team will focus on profiling inspirational and charismatic riders and showcasing their stories. Coverage will include regular shows from inside the team, with some developed and presented by the riders themselves. Cameras will follow the racers on a year-long journey through the most interesting events in cycling, with the aim of offering a new window into all aspects of the sport.
This new partnership follows a two-year study conducted by Rapha into the future of professional cycling. Led by four academic experts around the world and based on interviews with more than 50 of the most experienced stakeholders in the sport, Rapha adds that the project examined in detail the opportunities and challenges facing road cycling at large. The project reportedly found that there is a ‘vast opportunity to grow the sport and increase its overall value by converting more cyclists into fans and connecting more meaningfully with a modern audience.’
It is this foundation that Rapha and the EF team will build upon. Storytelling and creative content has been part of Rapha’s business since its launch in 2004, resulting in over 300 films created in its 15-year history; and several EF riders and staff are already known as some of the sport’s most colourful.
Simon Mottram, founder and CEO of Rapha said, “Rapha started in 2004 because of my own love for road racing. Racing has always been something that inspires us and our customers – it’s our common ground. Through our sponsorships with Rapha-Condor, Rapha Focus, Team Sky, Team WIGGINS and CANYON//SRAM, we’ve had great success, but are still frustrated that the sport can only grow if it fundamentally reforms.
“For this reason, we are excited to play a role in moving the sport forwards through the new venture with EF. We are passionate about making it reach more fans and be a better spectacle so that more people come to appreciate how great it is. As a fan, I’m so excited about us being back in the men’s WorldTour.”
Jonathan Vaughters at EF Education First said “Rapha is a great partner for us, from their world-class kit to the cycling culture we both want to help grow. We aim to open up cycling to a wider group of people; we’re interested in exploring all aspects of the community, from racing and its core fans to the people who just got on bikes.
“By bringing some of our athletes to grassroots and mainstream races across the world, we’re hoping to deepen the relationship between our team and other riders, and have some fun while we’re at it. We’re also going to give people more insight into the sport than before, showing a rare, unvarnished perspective of these athletes’ lives. The human element of cycling is very, very powerful. And as for the kit… we look forward to building on the strong visual identity forged by POC and bringing our style into a new chapter. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”
Together, Rapha and EF will celebrate the team’s characters and heroes, and will explore not only the traditional heart of cycling in the Grand Tours and Classics but also bring new formats and disciplines into focus.
A number of EF racers will ride a mixed calendar of events in the 2019 season, including the WorldTour schedule and also criteriums, ultra-endurance races and renowned mixed-terrain events. This coverage will be coupled with live events in Rapha Clubhouses and other venues around the world, ‘building on the local cycling communities that the brand has been developing since the company’s inception.’
Building on Rapha’s previous success in the WorldTour and race-proven range of Pro Team kit, the team will ‘wear the most technically advanced and visually striking clothing in the professional peloton’. The new designs will be released soon.
EF Education First is an international education company that focuses on language, academics and cultural experience. Founded in 1865, EF has more than 580 offices and schools in over 50 countries. ‘Moved by the powerful way cycling unites people of diverse backgrounds in a peaceful, fun, and friendly way to achieve extraordinary athletic feats’, EF entered professional cycling in 2018 to help spread its mission of ‘opening the world through education’.