The pro-cycling world was rocked in December by the news that Sky would be ending their investment in the team after more than a decade bankrolling Brailsford’s outfit, securing eight Grand Tours along the way.
However, according to widespread reports, after Sky step away at the end of 2019 the baton will be taken up by Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, with the inception of Team Ineos. With £21 billion at his disposal, Ratcliffe is expected to provide Brailsford with the same kind of financial platform which allowed Sky to dominate the sport, if not more. An announcement is expected in the next 48 hours.
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And speaking on the first episode of the new series of The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport, available now on all podcast providers, former Sky rider Wiggins said that if the news is confirmed, the new set-up could allow Brailsford to go about his work almost unchanged.
“Dave will want to retain control,” Wiggins said, “and it is Dave's way in terms of the way he manages the team, the way he sets the team up.
“I think he would have been reluctant to have another multinational company that came in that wanted it for the advertisement and to get their name out there, but would want the control in terms of, ‘this is how we want to do it in terms of how we advertise our company’.
I think that would have been a big point for Dave. so in some ways it's an ideal situation. He is the richest man in Britain and you would imagine that the kind of money they have asked for is nothing to him.
“Dave can continue running out this team with all his plans and philosophies, so it's an ideal situation for him and he is answerable you’d imagine to one man - it's his money. It will certainly help that team.
“I can hear Twitter going mad now, my ears are burning. 'What did he just say? Dave's going to carry on in the same way as he always did??'”
Wiggins was joined by new presenter Graham Willgoss and pro rider Adam Blythe in the first of 20 episodes for season two of The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport – covering the Spring Classics, all four Grand Tours and the World Championships.
Lotto-Soudal rider Blythe also suspects the prospective Team Ineos will be in a strong position to carry on Team Sky’s legacy of success.
“If that's the case I think everything will be the same,” Blythe said. “It might be a difference of change in the name on the jersey and everything will stay the same. if it does then it will be the same Team Sky as it is now and they will still be just as successful if they keep the same management, same process as they always have done.”
Although unconfirmed as yet, the biggest open secret in cycling has also served a purpose in removing any uncertainty around Sky’s big-name riders as they settle in for a 2019 season which will see the team defend the Giro title, even though Chris Froome won’t be present in Italy, and Geraint Thomas’ Tour title too.
Emerging Colombian star Egan Bernal - leader for the Giro, which starts in May - won Paris-Nice at the weekend and Wiggins feels Team Sky are now well placed to challenge for cycling’s biggest prizes.
“They can now [concentrate on the racing],” Wiggins said. “It's only March. You've got someone like Geraint Thomas who won the Tour last year. Obviously he was in high demand to go to another team. He's decided to stay with Sky, sign a new contract and as he signs, Sky announce they are pulling out.
“It would have been a worry for Geraint and those guys. But I'm sure behind the scenes, Dave and that would have been reassuring them, 'it's alright, we've got something in the bag'. It's March now and they can concentrate on the rest of the season and what they are paid to do.”
Listen to the first episode of the new series of the Bradley Wiggins Show in full for more on:
- Whether the British dominance of the Grand Tours will continue this year
- Whether Froome or Thomas will be Sky’s main man for the Tour
- What the year has in store for the Yates brothers, after Simon’s Vuelta triumph in 2018
- Which riders and teams have impressed in the early stages of 2019
- And how Wiggins feels about Victor Campenaerts’ imminent attempt to take his world hour record
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