Future looking bleak for Manchester based cycling team

National cycling centre

The future of the Manchester based Team Sky has been thrown into serious doubt after the broadcaster announced it is pulling the plug on its multimillion-pound sponsorship deal.

The team has become a powerhouse on the cycling circuit amassing 322 victories, including eight Grand Tour successes but there have also been controversies along the way.

The news was announced to riders including the four-time Tour champion Chris Froome and this year’s yellow jersey winner Geraint Thomas, on Tuesday night.

Sky’s investment in the team which is based in the National Cycling Centre in east Manchester has totalled more than £150m in the last decade.

A statement from the team said: “Team Sky will continue to race under a different name if a new backer is secured to provide funding from the beginning of 2020.”

Graham McWilliam, chairman of Team Sky, said it was “the right time” to bring the broadcaster’s involvement with the cycling team to an end.

He added: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been on the journey with Team Sky and British Cycling right from the start. Priority now is to help find new partners to take the team into the future.”

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said he hoped a new sponsor would be found in time for the 2020 season.

He added: “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.

“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.”

According to reports the decision came as a result of the £30bn takeover of Sky.

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.”