Rapha Condor is offering up to 100 people the chance to become part-owners of the team.
Simon Mottram of Rapha, and Grant Young of London bike shop Condor, announced the new funding package at the London start of the Tour of Britain on 7 September.
Rapha Condor is offering one-year subscriptions for up to 100 individuals and 20 corporate partners, with each member effectively becoming a part-owner of the team for 12 months.
Membership costs £1,000, or £10,000 for those tempted by a corporate subscription. The closing date is 30 September.
Individual members get exclusive Rapha replica team kit and can buy team bikes. There’s also personalised training and coaching advice; rides with pro team riders; VIP hospitality at races and events; discounts at Rapha, Condor and other partners; and team training camps and travel opportunities.
Team manager John Herety says initial take-up has been promising. “We’ve already got 30 takers, and it’s not exactly a cheap thing,” he said.
“As well as having the usual sponsorship from Rapha and Condor, the team will be financed by a club where it’s exclusive membership. An exclusive club goes along with the Rapha way of doing things.”
Lance Armstrong’s Discovery team adopted a similar concept and attracted a series of high-profile names, including actor Robin Williams, former Ask Jeeves chairman George Battle and John Doerr, the American venture capitalist best known for his investments in companies such as Google and Amazon.com.
Herety denied the move was an attempt by the team to expand. “We want to stay the same size,” he said. “Technically we will be expanding because the UCI’s criteria for a continental team is actually been upped, but I would probably envisage us going smaller in numbers but with stronger riders.”