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Team Sky to end in 2019 as Sky pulls sponsorship

Joe Robinson
12 Dec 2018

Brailsford will be on the hunt for a new sponsor as broadcaster ends nine year partnership

The future of Team Sky is in doubt as TV broadcaster Sky announced it is to end its sponsorship in 2019. The likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas could be forced into finding new teams for 2020 if Dave Brailsford is unable to find a new backer.

In a statement, Team Sky wrote, 'The decision will bring to a conclusion Sky’s ownership and sponsorship of Team Sky, which will continue to race under a different name if a new backer is secured to provide funding from the beginning of 2020.

'The team will compete as Team Sky for the last time throughout the 2019 road racing season, aiming to add to its total of 322 all-time wins including eight Grand Tours, 52 other stage races and 25 one-day races.'

The statement also claimed that the decision was part of a 'new phase' in the company and that 21st Century Fox, another of the team's sponsors, will also be withdrawing funding at the end of 2019. Both have pledged to help the team in the consideration of new sponsors. 

'While Sky and Fox will no longer be involved in cycling after next year, they and Team Sky’s management will give careful consideration to approaches from third parties with an interest in working with one of the world’s most successful sports teams.'

The statement didn't elaborate on the reasons for and timing of the decision, it's likely to have happened only recently considering the team had signed riders, such as Thomas and young Colombian Egan Bernal, on long-term contracts that spanned beyond 2020. 

It is also unlikely that the sponsorship is ending due to a lack of results, with Thomas and Froome giving the team its seventh and eighth eight Grand Tour wins at the Tour and Giro respectiively. 

In delivering the news, team manager Brailsford said he would be 'open-minded' in the consideration of a new sponsor and insisted the team would continue to push for further success in 2019 regardless of the decision.

'While Sky will be moving on at the end of next year, the Team is open-minded about the future and the potential of working with a new partner, should the right opportunity present itself.

'For now, I would like to thank all Team Sky riders and staff, past and present – and above all the fans who have supported us on this adventure,' said Brailsford.

'We aren’t finished yet by any means. 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 decision ends a hugely successful partnership spanning almost a decade since the team was launched in January 2010. In that time Sky has won an unprecedented six Tour de France titles in seven years with three riders.

Bradley Wiggins kicked off Sky's era of dominance when he led Froome home to a British 1-2 at the Tour, then Froome won four of the next five Tours, as well as wins at the Giro and Vuelta, before Thomas's win in this year's race. In this time, the team also managed victory in two Monuments, the 2016 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and 2017 Milan-San Remo. 

It was also a partnership that also had its fair share of controversy. Following the Fancy Bears hack of 2016, details of Wiggins's use of triamcinolone under therapeutic use exemptions were leaked and led to the subsequent 'Jiffy Bag' scandal and a government investigation.  

The team also fought and overturned Chris Froome's adverse analytical finding for asthma drug salbutamol which he returned at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.