Geraint Thomas carefully avoided confirming that Team Sky will become Team Ineos in 2020 but seemed confident and pleased that the team will continue under new backing, securing his future as a team leader of the British WorldTour team.
Cyclingnews was told by multiple sources on Thursday that the multinational chemical company owned by Britain’s richest person, Jim Ratcliffe, will take over from Team Sky for 2020, perhaps even increasing the team’s reported current budget of £34 million.
Thomas signed a new contract with Team Sky after winning the Tour de France in 2018 and seemed happy that his future is now secured.
“If it’s true, then yeah, but I don’t know, I’m just concentrating on racing,” Thomas said after stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico, carefully avoiding any confirmation of the news.
“You’d hope to think that we’d find something. We are in the best position to; we are one of the best sports teams around, let alone in cycling, so you’d hope we could find something.”
“I heard there was a lot of interest, but it’s like when we’re trying to sign a contract there’s always interest but it’s whoever puts the bloody contract in front of you, isn’t it? I don’t know, hopefully, but I’m just concentrating on this race and we’ll let Dave and all of them sort that out.”
It seems only a small group of Team Sky management have been working on securing a new sponsor for the team after Sky confirmed in December that it would end its sponsorship and ownership of the team. Other management, staff and the riders were told to focus on racing and results.
“We didn’t really get updates but Dave was in a positive mood,” Thomas revealed.
“He didn’t go into specifics for obvious reasons I guess. The more people you tell everything to, the more chance there is of it getting out. As far as we’re concerned, we’re confident we’ll carry on.”
Staying a British team
Brailsford held talks with Colombian president Ivan Duque in February, with local reports suggesting that the state-controlled gas and oil company Ecopetrol could take over team sponsorship to create Colombia’s first WorldTour team from the ashes of Team Sky.
However, Brailsford has apparently met several interested parties in recent months, opting for Ineos, allowing the team to stay as a flag bearer for British cycling.
“For me, as long as I get my money, as long as they pay me…” Thomas joked.
“For sure, if they stay British and they keep the same values then that’ll be a bonus. Any sponsor coming into the sport is good news.”
Under new UCI registration rules, teams have to register their intent to be part of the 2020 WorldTour before April 1. Team Sky was facing a race against time to find a new backer so that it could hold on to its best riders.
With Ineos set to take over title sponsorship, the team and riders like Thomas can focus on preparing for the Tour de France and other major goals.
It seems Ineos could be confirmed as the team’s sponsor for 2020 even before the Giro d’Italia in May.
“For sure, if it’s sorted sooner, then everyone is a bit more at ease,” Thomas acknowledged.
“As far as I know, it’s not completely done, so I don’t want to tempt fate. I just want to leave it to them and we’ll see.
“Once it’s sorted, I’m sure they’ll announce it. I’m not going to put on any extra pressure. Like I say, I just stay in my own little world, my own little bubble and concentrate on trying to get into full fitness.”