Kerry races to save American cycling team
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Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryKerry: Trump's rhetoric gave North Korea a reason to say 'Hey, we need a bomb' Russian hackers targeted top US generals and statesmen: report Trump officials to offer clarity on UN relief funding next week MORE has taken up a new cause: trying to save one of the few American cycling teams racing on the world circuit.

Kerry, an avid cyclist, has been working the phones to find new supporters for the team, Cannondale-Drapac, after one of its lead sponsors pulled its funding unexpectedly last week.

Kerry “is a longtime friend and supporter of cycling. He’s been especially supportive during this trying time,” team owner Jonathan Vaughters told The Hill in an email. “He’s done his best to reach out to various people and corporations that could help us survive this situation.”

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Vaughters has not identified the sponsor that pulled their funding.

Without the sponsor, the team faces a $7 million hole in its $19 million budget, a deficit that would force Vaughters to shutter the team if they cannot find alternate funding in time.

Kerry and Vaughters have known each other since 2008, when they met at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Vaughters invited Kerry on a training ride with some of the team’s riders in Boulder. This year, Kerry visited the Cannondale-Drapac team at the Tour de France.

After an era marred by doping in the professional circuit, Vaughters — a former teammate of Lance Armstrong who has admitted to doping during his own career — founded his own team committed to racing clean. 

Kerry, stung by Armstrong’s admission of systematic doping during his cycling career, found Vaughters’s commitment to clean sport appealing, a source close to the former secretary said.

While in office, Kerry relieved stress with long rides on his bicycle.

He broke a bone in his right leg while riding in France in 2015, during negotiations in Geneva with Iran over its nuclear program. Photos and video of Kerry riding around that time show him wearing a Garmin jersey, the team that became Cannondale-Drapac.

Vaughters has scrambled to find new sponsors to plug the $7 million hole in time to save the team’s 2018 season. Supporters have launched a crowd funding campaign that has raised almost $270,000 over the last several days.

Cannondale-Drapac is one of only three American teams on the Union Cycliste Internationale world tour, along with BMC Racing and Trek-Segafredo. It is home to some of the most promising American riders in the professional circuit, including Nate Brown and Andrew Talansky, the two highest-placed American riders in this year’s Tour de France. 

Cannondale-Drapac rider Rigoberto Uran, a Colombian, finished second in this year’s Tour.

Updated: 6:57 p.m.