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Anti-fracking protesters confront Team Ineos bus at Tour de Yorkshire

Joe Robinson
2 May 2019

Racing is yet to begin but the protesting has already started ahead of Stage 1 in Doncaster

Team Ineos have been confronted by anti-fracking campaigners before the Tour de Yorkshire has even begun as protesters stationed themselves outside the team's bus.

The Ineos bus had stationed itself at the start of Stage 1 in Doncaster with team riders, including Chris Froome, onboard readying themselves ahead of the first day of racing.

Before long, a group of anti-fracking protesters had gathered outside the bus to begin protests against the team's new primary sponsor, Ineos.

Ineos is Europe's largest petrochemical company and one of the world's biggest produces of single-use plastics. The company, fronted by Britain's richest man Jim Ratcliffe, also holds extensive rights to frack for shale gas across the county of Yorkshire.

Groups such as Frack Free United promised to protest the team and its participation in the race due to Ineos's position on fracking and what it perceives to be its harmful effects on the environment.

Beyond the initial protests at the team bus, groups have also promised to circulate 15,000 Jim Ratcliffe devil masks, create anti-fracking 'land art' and line the route of the four-day race.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Frack Free United's Steve Mason said: 'I don’t think fossil fuels should be included in sport. There is particular irony with the Ineos sponsorship after Team Sky spent last summer riding around with whales on the back of their jerseys to raise awareness of plastics in the ocean.'

At the team's launch in Yorkshire yesterday, Ratcliffe, Froome and team manager Dave Brailsford were questioned over the company's environmental record with the latter two being asked about the irony surrounding previous sponsor's Sky and their on-going campaign to end the use of single-use plastic.

In typical Brailsford fashion, the 55-year-old answered by saying that he believed Ineos would be able to tackle environmental issues.

'If anybody can do anything about it, it’s these guys. I understand the [perception] but I was quite happy to be here today to hear what Jim has to say about those issues,' said Brailsford.

'As a company, I think they are genuinely doing something to try to tackle a lot of those environmental issues.'