Team Sky and Rapha will end their partnership after 2016, so Cycling Weekly looks back at some of their greatest moments together
Rapha and Team Sky announced on Tuesday that they were to end their partnership at the end of the 2016 season after four successful years together.
Like when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston got divorced, we never saw it coming, but to celebrate the partnership we’ve picked out the eight most memorable moments of the Rapha/Sky collaboration.
Tour de France 2013 & 2015
There’s no bigger prize in the sport of cycling than the Tour de France and Sky have won two of them since Rapha came on board.
Of course, Sir Bradley Wiggins won the yellow jersey in 2012 to start a remarkable run for Team Sky in the Grand Boucle, but he was in the Adidas stripes – both of Chris Froome’s victories have come in Rapha kit.
In 2013, Froome got his chance to lead the team, having performed as a domestique to Wiggins the previous year, and he didn’t disappoint – beating Nairo Quintana by a whole 4-20 in a great show of both attacking and defensive cycling.
Two years later, having crashed out in 2014, Froome pulled on the yellow jersey again in Paris after a much harder fought battle against the Colombian, this time only triumphing by 1-12.
Each year, Rapha produced a special edition black and yellow kit to celebrate the historic achievements. Can Froome add a third title in 2016 to give Rapha a great send off?
Giro d’Italia 2013
Team Sky’s first sniff of Grand Tour success in Rapha kit came at their first attempt when Rigoberto Uran finished second overall at the Giro d’Italia.
The Colombian finished 1-09 ahead of former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans to come runner up to a dominant Vincenzo Nibali.
Sky had a day in the maglia rosa as well, after they won the stage-two team time trial and put Italian Salvatore Puccio in the leader’s jersey for stage three.
Milan-San Remo 2014
Sky have made no secret of their desire to win a Monument and their time almost came in last year’s Milan-San Remo when Ben Swift surprised many people by finishing third.
It remains the closest Sky have come to winning one of the five monuments, although with Michal Kwiatkowski now on board they could have a shot at another in 2016.
Vuelta a España 2014
Having crashed out of the Tour de France with injury, Froome recovered in time to battle Alberto Contador to the line at the Vuelta a España.
In an incredibly tight race, just 1-50 separated Contador, Froome and Alejandro Valverde in third, but Froome was forced to settle for second place for the second time in three years, having also been runner up in 2012.
With the Tour and Olympic Games on his radar in 2016, it’s unlikely Froome will challenge for the Vuelta again, but with Quintana already throwing his name in the ring for the Spanish race Froome could be tempted to ride it once more.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2014 & 2015
Ian Stannard has been a feature at Team Sky since its inception in 2010, but until 2014 he was mostly featuring as a domestique.
Last year, though, Stannard broke through with an impressive win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – traditionally the first Belgian semi-Classic of the year – beating Greg Van Avermaet to the line in Ghent.
Having broken his back a month later at Ghent-Wevelgem, Stannard recovered in time to race again before the end of the season, but few predicted he would be prepared to successfully defend his Het Nieuwsblad crown in 2015.
Not only did he win the race again, Stannard held off three Etixx-Quick Step riders in the four-man break that he was part of, as Niki Terpstra, Tom Boonen and Stijn Vandenbergh were frustrated by the Essex man.
E3 Harelbeke 2015
Geraint Thomas got in on the Classics action in 2015 as well, winning his first major one-day race at the E3 Harelbeke with a well-timed solo breakaway in the final 10 kilometres.
Two days later, the Welshman battled against gale-force winds to finish third at Ghent-Wevelgem and left Sky fans believing that he could win the Tour of Flanders the following week.
He didn’t quite manage it, finishing 14th, as his new-found status as a Classics rider saw him marked heavily all day.
Tour of Britain 2013
Time trialling was always a huge part of Sir Bradley Wiggins’s success and his win at the 2013 Tour of Britain was no different.
Taking the leader’s jersey after the 16km stage against the clock around the zoo in Knowsley gave Wiggo a lead that he would not surrender as the race moved towards London.
Team Sky have won multiple stages in front of their home fans in Rapha kit over the years, but Wiggins’s triumph in 2013 has been Sky’s only Tour of Britain overall win since the partnership started.