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Drapac Cycling has announced that it will cease operations at the end of 2019. Team founder, owner and financer, Michael Drapac, created the team in 2004 as a holistic development program for young athletes, with a focus on education and careers beyond bike racing. Since then, Drapac-backed teams have raced at all levels of the sport.
What started as an Australian domestic team became a UCI Continental (third-tier) team in 2006. In 2014 the team stepped up to Professional Continental level (second tier) under the name Drapac Professional Cycling. It remains only the second Australian team to have raced in the professional road cycling ranks, following in the footsteps of Orica-GreenEdge (now Mitchelton-Scott) which started in 2012. Drapac Professional Cycling spent three years in road cycling’s third tier, before closing its doors at the end of 2016.
In mid-2016 Drapac went into partnership with Slipstream Sports and became a title sponsor of the Cannondale-Drapac WorldTour (top tier) team. The team raced under that name in late 2016 and in 2017, before becoming EF Education First-Drapac in 2018. Drapac ceased its involvement with the WorldTour team at the end of 2018.
In its time as a Drapac co-sponsored team, the WorldTour outfit earned a number of strong results, headlined by Rigoberto Uran’s second overall at the 2017 Tour de France. All told, in its 16 years in the sport, Drapac Cycling has won seven national titles — including Australian road titles with Darren Lapthorne (2007) and Peter McDonald (2009) — three Oceania titles, and more than 60 UCI-classified victories. Several riders from the Drapac Pro Continental squad made the jump to the WorldTour, namely Brendan Canty, Wouter Wippert, Tom Scully and James Whelan.
The reason for Drapac Cycling’s closure is not clear. But in an interview with CyclingTips earlier this year, following the tragic death of his son Damion, Michael Drapac hinted at a change of focus from racing to grassroots cycling.
“Grassroots is beautiful, and it promotes community. And that’s the purpose of sport,” Drapac said. “And I think having got to the top — we were at WorldTour for three years — I actually came to understand that real beauty. My son really taught me a lot about this too.
“I’m a little bit over the whole WorldTour. I really am. I still look at results every day, don’t get me wrong. The thing I’ve learned about sport is this, just from experience: The beauty in elite sport is confined to the field. You don’t see beauty off the field. You see egos and loneliness and drugs and greed. Greedy unappreciative people who think they’re worth $2 million instead of $1 million.”
Drapac Cycling’s current iteration, the Continental-level Drapac-Cannondale Holistic Development Team, is currently racing in Europe and will close out the 2019 season with Australia’s National Road Series (NRS) and finally, the Shimano Supercrit.