Team Sky to close in 2019 after broadcaster pulls plug on sponsorship
Manchester-based Team Sky will cease to exist at the end of 2019 after Sky announced it was to stop sponsoring the outfit.
The news was broken to riders and staff over dinner at their training camp in Majorca on Tuesday night. It will draw to an end more than a decade of success, during which time the team won six Tour de France titles, as well as the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
Sky's investment over the last decade has totalled more than £150m, making the team - which is based at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester - the richest outfit in world cycling by some distance.
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said he hoped a new sponsor would be found in time for the 2020 season.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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 vision for Team Sky began with the ambition to build a clean, winning team around a core of British riders and staff. The team’s success has been the result of the talent, dedication and hard work of a remarkable group of people who have constantly challenged themselves to scale new heights of performance. None of this would have been possible without Sky.
“We are proud of the part we have played in Britain’s transformation into a cycling nation over the last decade.”
Sky executives are understood to have told a shocked Brailsford last week that Concast’s £30bn takeover of Sky in September made it a natural time to end the partnership.
They deny that the decision was influenced by a number of controversies the team have faced, especially the damning report by the Digital Culture Media and Sport select committee in March into a jiffy bag delivered to Sir Bradly Wiggins in 2011.
Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Group Chief Executive, said: “We came into cycling with the aim of using elite success to inspire greater participation at all levels. After more than a decade of involvement, I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved with Team Sky and our long-standing partners at British Cycling.
“But the end of 2019 is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky’s story and turn our focus to different initiatives including our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign.
"I’d like to pay a special tribute to Dave Brailsford and the immensely talented team of riders and staff he has assembled at Team Sky. What they have achieved together would have been beyond the dreams of many just a few years ago. We thank you for joining with us on this journey and look forward to enjoying our last season of racing together.”