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Colombian petrol company latest to be linked with Team Sky

Joe Robinson
14 Feb 2019

Ecopetrol latest rumoured saviour of Team Sky as Colombian WorldTour team looks increasingly likely

Rumours of Team Sky being backed by Colombian investment have been pushed further as reports suggest major state-backed oil company Ecopetrol will step in as the main financier.

Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that the oil company will come on board as a major sponsor although is unlikely to cover the team's £34 million annual budget, with the option for secondary sponsors.

Ecopetrol would certainly have the capital to cover the demands of Dave Brailsford's team considering its estimated $27 billion revenue. This sees it ranked 346th from 500 in the Fortune Global 500 list and as one of the world's 25 biggest petroleum exporters.

The company is also partially funded by the state which links to rumours yesterday that Brailsford met with Colombian president Ivan Duque in regards to sponsorship for next season. 

Reported by Colombian newspaper El Espectadorthe Team Sky boss travelled to Colombia ahead of the ongoing Tour Colombia stage race to explore potential sponsorship with President Duque and director of Coldeportes - the government department for sport and recreation - Ernesto Lucena.

The meeting is believed to have been facilitated by Colombian former Team Sky rider Rigoberto Uran, who is currently in his final year of contract at EF Pro Cycling and pursuing his own personal ambitions of a Colombian WorldTour team.

The current team budget is £34 million, the highest in the professional cycling, with a rumoured 10 riders on contracts worth more than £1 million per year. 

Team Sky have recently been on a public relations offensive in Colombia ahead of the ongoing stage race.

Six-time Grand Tour winner Chris Froome started his season in the South American country after completing a two-week training block with his team in the Antioquia region.

Alongside the training, the Team Sky riders have been integrating with the local community with various projects while also having launched the new insider series 'Inside Line' in Colombia.

Froome has also been training closely with Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa, the young Team Sky Colombian duo that have been widely tipped as both the future of Team Sky, if the team continue beyond 2020, and Colombian cycling.

This summer saw Sky fight hard for the signature of Sosa. The 21-year-old had signed an initial two-year deal with Trek-Segafredo with the team even paying a €120,000 release clause to Italian ProContinental team Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec.

Sosa then took on representation from agent Giuseppe Acquadro who withdrew Sosa from the deal, had Androni reimburse Trek for the release clause and then negotiated a three-year deal with Team Sky.

If the Colombian government or Ecopetrol do wade in to provide Team Sky with sponsorship beyond the end 2019, it would inherit the contracts of Colombia's most promising young cyclists and only further the popularity of the sport at home in Colombia.

The nation's government has previously been involved in the world of professional cycling sponsorship with Coldeportes acting as the main financier of the ProContinental Colombia-Coldeportes team that raced from 2012 to 2015. 

In this time the team raced three Grand Tours - twice the Giro d'Italia and once at the Vuelta a Espana - as well as Il Lombardia, Milan-San Remo and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It also helped provide a route into European racing for the likes of Esteban Chaves, Daniel Matinez and Darwin Atapuma.