Cost of Team Sky women’s squad would be ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to men’s budget

The British outfit's new sponsor has sparked hopes a women’s team could be on the horizon

Could Team Sky establish a women's team with their new sponsor? (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The cost of a world-class Team Sky women’s squad would be a “drop in the ocean” compared to the men’s budget.

Britain’s only WorldTour team has been an unprecedented success in men’s racing, but the lack of investment in a women’s outfit has been a disappointment to many.

But the news that the country’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe will be taking over the team has reinvigorated hopes of British women’s super-team.

British track talent Neah Evans told Cycling Weekly: “I would say it’s lacking at the moment.

“It is a disappointment. Sky had a big budget and now they have an even bigger budget.

“The amount of money they would have needed to set up a women’s cycling team that would have been world-class is a drop in the ocean compared to what they spend on the men’s team.

“For whatever reason, they didn’t wish to do it. Maybe you can hope for the future that it will be worthwhile.”

>>> Why it’s up to cycling fans and the media to hold team sponsors accountable for their actions 

Team Sky launched into the men’s peloton with much fanfare in 2010, vocal about their ambition to take a British rider to the top step of the Tour de France.

It was two years before Sir Bradley Wiggins won the nation’s first yellow jersey, with the going on to win four more Tours de France with Chris Froome and the 2018 edition with Geraint Thomas.

Froome has also added the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España to Sky's list of achievements, becoming the first British winner of all three Grand Tours.

But Britain has fallen behind rival nations in women’s racing, as the Netherlands have dominated the sport with Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen the most prolific winners.

British former World Champion Lizzie Deignan had much with Dutch super-team Boels-Dolmans, while other national stars have focussed their attention on the track.

Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford has previously said he has considered establishing a women’s team, but it never materialised.

The average cost of a men's WorldTour team is estimated at around £15million, with Team Sky operating on around £34million annually.

In contrast, women's teams operate on budgets closer to £150,000.

Team Sky have now announced that British chemical firm Ineos will be taking over from the broadcaster Sky at the start of May.

>>> Team Sky funding boost under Ineos sparks budget cap discussions 

Rumours of an increased budget for the team have followed, with many suggesting Ineos should also launch a women’s team under the same banner.

Evans, who is part of the British track squad, said: “At the moment it’s a new sponsor, so maybe they don’t know what they’re taking on.

“Once it’s established, looking at setting up a women’s team would be the ideal situation. But such is life.”

She added: “You see the domination Team Sky has and we don’t have a female equivalent, and I think that’s a huge shame.

“Trying to set that up would be massive and would hopefully attract British riders back to ride for British teams.

“But until that happens, we’ll just have to make do.”

Evans will be racing the Six Day Manchester at the National Cycling centre between March 22-24.

She and other British track stars including Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald will hit the boards amidst a party atmosphere, as they continue preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Ahead of the event, Evans said: "I think it’s going to be mega.

"Couple the enthusiasm you get with the fans here with the Six Day atmosphere, its going to be fantastic.

"Having it on the track in Manchester is great for us because we don’t have the travelling associated with it.

"There’s definitely an advantage to it being Manchester – we know where everything is, we know how the scoreboard works, the best point to look at it, whether you want to lead it out from the front, come round, that sort of thing.

"I want to try and get UCI points and I also want to try and have fun. I know I’m not on the best of form, so there’s no point in getting too stressed about it."

Tickets for Six Day Manchester are on sale now.

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