Sky Broadcasting ends Sponsorship of British Team Sky
Sky who have won the Tour de France with current riders Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, will end their sponsorship of the British team at the end of 2019
British firm Sky Broadcasting, part of the international Sky Group, has sponsored the team since it's start in 2010 and also sponsored the Great British cycling team. Altogether the team won the Tour de France six times with current champion Geraint Thomas, and previous winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
The Sky Group was recently bought out by Comcast.
Jeremy Darroch, the Sky Group's Chief Executive stated in a press release "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,".
Team Principal Dave Brailsford, stated "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."
Chris Froome said on Twitter "I can't predict the future but I can say this with absolute certainty, this is a really special team, we plan to be together in 2020 if at all possible and we will all be doing everything we can to help make that happen – in different colours with a new partner but with the same values, focus and desire to win."
The team has been embroiled with several allegations of doping and miss doping tests including Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, whilst British Cycling, sponsored previously by Sky, have been the centre of similar allegations, and presently are involved in a sex discrimination lawsuit with a former female athlete, Jess Varnish.
Wiggins was the focus of a UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) investigation into claims of wrongdoing in cycling, is believed to have missed a drug test just months before the Rio Olympics. Both Wiggins and Froome's medical records were stolen by Russian hackers "Fancy Bears" and it was revealed the five-times Olympic champion was struggling with his breathing before the 2012 Tour de France and decided to take triamcinolone on medical advice.
Wiggins and Sky were involved in a British parlamentary enquiry regarding an undentified package that was rumoured to include a medicine or TUE for Wiggins for use whilst competing at the Criterium du Dauphine race, to the run up of the Tour de France. The allegations were unproven due to lack of evidence.
Chris Froome was temporarily banned from riding the 2018 Tour de France by owners ASO, after Froome was found to have double the permitted level of the asthma drug Salbutamol in his system when tested after stage 18 of his Vuelta triumph in September 2017. Salbutamol is a specified substance rather than a prohibited one, meaning Froome was allowed the chance explain the test result and continue racing. Froome was subsequently cleared to ride the Tour de France as the UCI closed the anti-doping case
Thomas won his first Tour de France title this year, while Chris Froome is a four-time champion. Froome was initially the leader, but after Thomas took over as he forged ahead to take the yellow jersey at the 2018 Tour de France
Team Sky face a dilemma of who fills that position next year, as both Thomas and Froome focus on the 2019 Tour de France title with Thomas looking for his second consecutive title and Froome his fifth.