British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to sponsor Team Sky with bigger budget, according to sources

Sources close to the deal say the new sponsor will be announced before the Giro d'Italia

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe will sponsor Team Sky for 2020 and beyond with a bigger budget than before, a source close to the team has said.

The deal will be announced next month before the Giro d'Italia, Cycling Weekly understands.

Team Sky currently runs on £34 million a year, the biggest annual budget in cycling, but may have even deeper pockets next year.

>>> Who are Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, Team Sky’s potential new sponsors?

Ineos, Ratcliffe's chemical company, is said to be the sponsor according to reports.

Sources close to the team could not confirm if it would be Ineos or one of its subsidiaries, but said that 66-year-old Ratcliffe is the man to ensure the team's future.

Ratcliffe, a masters triathlete, already backs the Ineos Team UK sailing squad at an estimated £110 million. According to one source, he and Team Sky principal Sir David Brailsford will officially announce the news before the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 11.

The source confirmed recent comments made by Sky sports director Matteo Tosatto, who ruled out foreign backers and said a "home deal" would be announced soon.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe could be Team Sky's new backer (Photo: DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)

Team Sky recently signed multi-year deals with Chris Froome through to 2020, Geraint Thomas until 2021, and Egan Bernal to 2023.

The contract extensions came despite parent company Sky plc announcing it would not continue its cycling backing beyond the 2019 season.

Rumoured deals with a U.S. billionaire or with Colombian petroleum giant Ecopetrol appear to have been discredited by these new reports.

Brailsford accompanied Froome and Bernal to the Tour Colombia in February and met with Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, the sports secretary and businesses including oil company Ecopetrol.

A source said a potential deal was on the table with Ecopetrol until last week.

Ratcliffe is already backing Sir Ben Ainslie's bid to win the America's Cup and has previously hinted at plans to buy Chelsea football club.

>>> Bradley Wiggins and Skoda deal ends a year early

Britain's first WorldTour team produced the first British Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins in 2012.

Chris Froome won four more times and Geraint Thomas gave the team its sixth Tour title last summer.

The Team is targeting a fifth Tour for Froome this season to equal the greats.

Team Sky, when asked for comment on the Ratcliffe deal said "We won't be commenting on the process."

Another source heavily tied to Team Sky played down the deal saying that Brailsford is still talking to a couple of other potential backers.

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