With new colours and an international sponsor, the Drapac-EF Holistic Development Team boasts an impressive line-up and it adheres to policies that make education a priority for all the riders…

There are 12 riders on the roster and a wealth of talent. More than being capable cyclists – who have ambitions of carving out a career in the WorldTour ranks – they are also working to further their education.

If you have followed cycling in Australia since 2005, you’re likely to know a little about the Drapac philosophy. It’s one that does not put winning at the top of the priority list and the name of the team reflects that approach. “Holistic Development” is part of the package.

Take a moment to consider the concepts raised by title sponsor, Michael Drapac, from a presentation given back before he became linked with sponsorship of a WorldTour squad (known in 2018 as ‘EF Education First-Drapac powered by Cannondale’) and you realise that he doesn’t mind going against the grain.


(See: The sporting world according to Michael Drapac for more.)


This is a team that will earn additional coverage in the coming weeks and months; not only is it the best funded of the line-ups in our NRS team profile series, it is also one that includes many innovations and concepts that are worth further commentary.

The team list is the only one to reference the riders’ respective universities and the degree they are studying.

  • ACU, Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science (Bondarenko-Edwards)
  • Monash University, Bachelor of Engineering (Burt)
  • Latrobe University, Masters of Education (Featonby)
  • University of Adelaide, Bachelor of Commerce (Kaesler)
  • Deakin University, Bachelor of Management (Kent-Spark)
  • Charles Sturt University, Bachelor of Applied Science (Magennis)
  • University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Science (Monk)
  • Victoria University, Bachelor of Education (Pane)
  • RMIT, Bachelor of Science/Business (Smyth)
  • RMIT, Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Whelan)
  • Federation University, Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science (White)
  • Curtin University, Bachelor of Architecture (Yates)


There is more to be said but, for now, let’s have a look at the 10 answers to RIDE’s 10 questions…


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  1. Can you please provide a list of riders on your team?


Drapac-EF Holistic Development Team
Name State Club Age
Sascha Bondarenko-Edwards VIC Carnegie Caulfield CC 24
Patrick Burt VIC Hawthorn Cycling CC 21
Jesse Featonby VIC Albury Wodonga Panthers CC 30
Thomas Kaesler VIC Kilkenny CC 23
Oliver Kent-Spark VIC Geelong CC 25
Liam Magennis NSW Port Macquarie CC 21
Cyrus Monk VIC Melbourne Uni CC 21
James Pane VIC Brunswick CC 22
Alexander Smyth VIC Carnegie Caulfield CC 29
James Whelan VIC Hawthorn CC 21
Liam White VIC Ballarat-Sebastopol 23
Theodore Yates VIC Peel CC 23

The first win for the team with its new sponsor, EF Education First, was by Cyrus Monk in the under-23 national championships (above).

  1. Can you please list the staff/management of your team?

  • Vasanta Iyer: general manager
    “Overseeing operations of entire team, hiring staff, financial management of the team, sponsorship, facilitating the wellbeing program. Also works for Drapac in the Investment team. Has been working with Drapac Cycling  for 18 months.”


  • Agostino Giramondo: sports director
    “Lead sport director and oversees team logistics. Has been working in cycling for over 40 years, and with Drapac Cycling for over 10 years.”


  • Mark O’Brien: sports director
    “Assistant sport director. Ex-rider, and now is a coach as well. Has been known to give nationals a real crack every year, even in retirement. Has been working with Drapac Cycling for 18 months.”

This team will be racing with disc brakes throughout the 2018 season. (For some comments after racing at the nationals with this set-up, see RIDE’s interview with Theo Yates.)

  1. Can you please list your title sponsors and what their line of business is?

• Drapac Capital Partners: Property Funds Management
“Drapac Capital is a US-based funds management business with a core investment focus on land.


• EF Education First: International Education Company
“EF Education First is an international education company that specialises in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange.”


• Cannondale: bike manufacturer
“Cannondale is a maker of premium bicycles for race, joy riding, mountain biking and just all-around fun.”


  1. Can you please list your co-sponsors?

  • POC (helmets, glasses and racewear)
  • Vision (wheels)
  • New Balance (casual wear)
  • IOS: bike fitting
  • Zagame: cars
  • Physio Sports: Physio services/injury management

EF Education First-Drapac (with pink) is the WorldTour team registered in the USA; Drapac-EF Holistic Development team (in blue and green) is a Continental team registered as Australian.

  1. Do you expect that your team will contest all events on the NRS calendar in 2018?

“We will be attending most events that are logistically possible for us. We’re grateful that Cycling Australia has planned the season to not have any events within the university exam period, so we will be able to attend all of our events with a full team.

Battle Recharged conflicts with our European racing block, so unfortunately, we will not be attending it.

“The Tour of Tasmania is at an interesting time too, as if a rider is targeting the national championships as a main event (which most would) they would not be looking to be in peak form in mid-November. It’s a great race to use as preparation for nationals, however, it is just too early to have any real influence over form going into nationals. We will plan to attend it though, as it is important for our riders to have every opportunity to succeed in the NRS which will lead to greater opportunities with the nationals.”


  1. Can you please list relevant social media links that are associated with your team?

RIDE Media has posted a couple of interviews with Michael Drapac on its YouTube channel.

Part 1 (October 2016)

Part 2 (January 2018)

  1. What is your team’s main motivation for being part of the NRS?

 “Firstly, to support Australian racing, which will hopefully, with this revamp, regather some momentum and become a great platform to develop and encourage young riders.

“We hope that more positive support around the NRS will in turn give our riders more exposure for them to progress with an easier pathway to the next level of their cycling career.

“Secondly, racing in Australia is also important for the team as it is a good opportunity for our riders to race locally, while also working on their educational commitments, and while having a close support network of family and friends.

“Lastly, once the media side of the NRS has been finalised, our motivation will be to have a successful NRS campaign which will give our sponsors greater exposure in Australia.”


  1. What could be done to improve the NRS?

“Increasing the appeal of the NRS to both cyclists and non-cyclists is a great place to start.

“The media/marketing/PR side has been highlighted as something that needs to be worked on, and even starting with a dedicated NRS website, listing each rider, team, sponsor etc. with a little information on each, would certainly be a step in the right direction, giving exposure to riders, the team, and their sponsors.”

Riders from the Continental team have a pathway to the WorldTour… 

  1. How many years have you and your team been involved in:

a) Cycling? “12 years – Michael Drapac has been involved in Australian cycling since he created his first team in 2006.”

b) The NRS? “12 years. Drapac has been involved in the NRS at varying levels since 2006.”


  1. Miscellaneous

“While we are a Continental cycling team, and one of our goals is to gain successful results in as many races as possible, our main objective is to support and develop our riders off the bike, which will in turn influence their racing results.

“Our race program is unique in the way that it complements the university timetable. All of our riders are required to be engaged in a tertiary course, or a similar educational course, so as a team we fully support our riders’ educational aspirations.

“We also work hard to ensure that our riders have opportunities to network with potential mentors and business contacts in their chosen field of study, through our sponsors and other key contacts of the team.”