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In 2019, Team Sky celebrates its 10th year in the pro peloton. It has been a successful stint for the sponsor but the BBC has reported that it will be the farewell season for Sky.
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Six victories in the Tour de France… and counting. It’s one of many headlines that could relate to Team Sky as it approaches its 10th year in cycling but news just in from the UK suggests that, for a few months at least, there will also be considerable speculation about which company will replace the media empire as title sponsor.
The BBC report explains that a statement insisted there is a future for Sir David Brailsford and his cohort, even after Sky leaves the sport.
“Team Sky will continue to race under a different name if a new backer is secured to provide funding from the beginning of 2020.”
The statement issued by the team is not part of a broader media release but the BBC has received a statement that included comments from Brailsford that suggest he is confident that the hugely successful team will have a future beyond 2019.
“We aren’t finished yet by any means,” Brailsford is reported as saying.
“There is another exciting year of racing ahead of us and we will be doing everything we can to deliver more Team Sky success in 2019.”
The team began with much fanfare in 2009 when it declared its intentions of winning the Tour de France with a British rider within five years. It took only four seasons but once Bradley Wiggins pulled of a coup – one that has since been derided by many – it has proven to be the dominant force.
‘Wiggo’ became ‘Sir Wiggo’ and the team duly began distancing itself from its original leader. He would not race the Tour de France again after his victory in 2012.
Then came the run of success for Chris Froome: champion of the Tour in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017, as well as winner of the Vuelta a España in 2017 and the Giro d’Italia in 2018.
This year it was the turn of another former pursuit specialist to become GC maestro; Geraint Thomas claimed victory in the 105th edition of the Tour, winning two successive mountain stages and finishing ahead of Tom Dumoulin and Froome in July.
We wait for further news about the sponsorship predicament that Brailsford and co find themselves in. Commentary is bound to suggest that the sour taste of scandal influenced the decision by Sky to withdraw support; more realistically, however, it’s the machinations associated with huge business transactions relating to Disney’s association with the media company that has held naming rights to the British team since inception.
– By Rob Arnold