The Wild Ride: Why we decided to become a title partner of a WorldTour pro cycling team
Jumping into the world of pro cycling was not an easy decision. The whole process has been a wild ride, and we weren’t even the ones on the bikes!
Last September, EF Education First—the company where I am co-chairman—decided to become the title partner of WorldTour pro cycling team, Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale.
As fans of pro cycling, we already knew about this team. We’d heard about the Indiegogo campaign to #SaveArgyle, and saw the dedication this team inspired in their fans. And we also saw our own company values in this young, scrappy, multi-national team.
EF has worked with major sports in the past. We had two sailing teams compete in the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race. Not only did we have the only all-female team with EF Education, but our EF Language team won first place. And, we have been an Official Supplier and Sponsor of five Olympic games, most recently in PyeongChang.
But entering into a partnership for a pro cycling team was still a major step for us.
As with anything EF does, the ultimate decision wasn’t about money—it was about people. We read what this team’s fans were saying, and saw the passion and love that drove them. That’s when we knew that this was a team we wanted to be a part of.
This is a team that came into the pro cycling circuit as underdogs. But through what seemed like sheer force of will, they worked their way up to the top. They had the youngest roster in the 2017 cycling season, and one of the lowest budgets. But despite competing against teams with triple the resources, this team rode through it all—and celebrated together as team member Rigoberto “Rigo” Uran placed second overall in the 2017 Tour de France.
This “nothing is impossible” scrappiness reminded me of our own company history. After all, EF was first started in the basement of my father’s dormitory more than 50 years ago.
The team and their fans have shown their determination to never give up, never settle for “good enough”, and never limit themselves by what others think is possible. It’s the same mentality that has driven EF from the very beginning.
We saw right away that this team was a perfect reflection of our own values. They had the same spirit of grit, positivity, and passion that we do. And their whole team makeup reflects what EF has always promoted above all else—global teamwork. They are a team of riders from all around the world working together to achieve a common goal. And most importantly, they let their own unconventional personalities as riders shine through—something we’ve always valued in ourselves as a family business.
Professional cycling is a sport of endurance. It’s a sport of passion and unbreakable spirit. Above all, it’s a sport of teamwork. It’s a sport which reflects the core values that EF has made our foundation, and celebrates the individuals that come together to form one unstoppable unit. And now, it’s a sport that EF is proud to be a part of.
Since the announcement, we have been overwhelmed with the responses from fans all around the world. Some of them knew us, and had remembered EF trips or language courses they’d taken themselves. Plenty were only learning about our company for the first time, but saw an instant connection between what we stand for and their riders in argyle. We are proud to be a title partner of this incredible team #pinkargyle, and a part of this community of dedicated fans around the world.
Together, we are Team EF.
Co-Chairman of EF Education First