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Anti-fracking group to protest at Tour de Yorkshire over Team Ineos 'greenwashing'

Ineos holds the rights to frack for shale gas across multiple sites in Yorkshire

Joe Robinson
21 Mar 2019

The introduction of Team Ineos into the professional peloton at the Tour de Yorkshire is set to be greeted with protests by anti-fracking campaigners.

Ineos announced its purchase of Tour Racing Limited, the holding company of Team Sky, on Tuesday with the team to appear in its new guise for the first time at Stage 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire on May 2nd.

The multi-billion pound chemical company, headed by Britain's richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, currently has a license to frack for shale gas across multiple sites in the county of Yorkshire.

Ratcliffe is an ardent supporter of fracking and has vocally criticised government efforst to regulate the method of drilling for oil. Ineos is yet to start fracking operations due to planning disputes and protests.

Anti-fracking group Free Frack United has confirmed that these protests will continue and says it will be present at the Tour de Yorkshire when Team Ineos is officially unveiled.

'No doubt there will be protests,' Steve Mason of Free Frack United told BBC Sport. 'The hypocrisy is astounding and the greenwashing of their image is scandalous.

'I for one will not be letting my kids watch cycling anymore with Team Ineos taking part and I won't be alone. No doubt there will be protests around the Tour de Yorkshire and the World Championships to be held in Yorkshire later this year.'

The announcement of Ineos as the new sponsor of Team Sky was immediately met with criticism centred around the industries the company is primarily associated with.

Ineos is among the largest produces of plastic in Europe, a stark contrast from Team Sky's 'Sky's Ocean Rescue' campaign at last year's Tour de France which pledged to end single-use plastic by 2020.

Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth have also been vocal since the announcement with spokesman Tony Bosworth also labelling the sponsorship an attempt at 'greenwashing'.

'Cycling is one of the UK’s most successful and popular sports, but do the likes of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome really want to be associated with a planet-wrecking company like Ineos?' Bosworth commented.

'Taking over Team Sky is the latest blatant attempt at greenwashing by Ineos. It’s a harsh change of tone that may see Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign to clear plastic pollution from our oceans ditched from the team jersey in favour of Ineos – one of the biggest plastic producers in Europe.'

While the controversy currently surrounding the issue is understandable given the profiles of the parties concerned, criticism and controversy is nothing new for major sponsors in cycling.

In fact, this very week fellow energy giant Total announced its own sponsorship deal to back French ProContenental team Direct Energie.

State-backed teams Bahrain-Merida, UAE Team-Emirates and Astana, meanwhile, have all been criticised for receiving funding from nations that have been accused of extensive human rights abuses.

Mitchelton-Scott were formerly sponsored by Orica, a multinational mining company linked to multiple chemical spills worldwide, while Katusha-Alpecin is personally backed by Igor Makarov, president of the Itera Oil and Gas Company.