Team Sky would “raise the bar” again with their rumoured bigger budget and new sponsor.
A source close to the team said that Sky’s new backer Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest person, could bring a larger budget than its current £34 million annual deal.
Team Sky are already the richest team in cycling, with rivals operating on budgets of around £10million to £15million.
“They’ve raised the bar, we are just trying to keep up with it,” Mitchelton-Scott sports director, Matt White told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s made teams with less budget, which is nearly everybody, spend their money wisely and really scrutinise how they spend their money and really target specific goals in the year and where they do spend their budget.
“We can’t afford to buy the depth that Sky’s got, so you have a bit of Moneyball situation and you have to go looking for talent in other places, and develop talent, not just buy talent.”
Sky will become Team Ineos from May and with the new name will come a larger investment, according to a source.
“For the team it means they can invest even more money,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said.
“Not to have more riders than they have now, but to have more money to invest in research, materials.
“That’s what everyone is thinking of. They have that chance to put in more investment now.
“For cycling, the more money that enters, the better. We all would be better off. I’d like to have more money at times too but I’m doing okay as things are.”
“It’s not going to do harm,” Martinelli added. “We need to see how they invest that money, how they spend the money, if they just buy off all the riders or invest it. But the big teams need money to invest to grow. It’s good for cycling, for sure, when bigger sponsors are entering the sport.”
“They’ll probably buy Aston Martins for team cars, they’ll have space shuttle buses, jet packs,” Movistar sports director Max Sciandri said.
“I’m actually glad they have a sponsor. A team like that should not end and should carry on for the good of cycling. You need quality, that’s what cycling needs. They set a high standard, and that’s tough for a lot of teams to match, almost impossible for some of the teams.”
Mitchelton-Scott and other teams like EF Education First and Deceuninck – Quick-Step have fought for sponsors in recent years.
Rivals have yet to even come close to getting that big catch that team boss Sir David Brailsford pulled in first with Sky and now with Ineos.
Brailsford found a sponsor in only a few months. EF Education team boss Jonathan Vaughters recently fought to save his team and did so only in the last minute.
“It’s a sign that everything is growing, our sport is getting bigger and bigger,” EF Education First sports director, Fabrizio Guidi said.
“If the balance with the other teams is not the same then it’s something to think about, but I’m happy they found a sponsor and people have a job and that shows that cycling’s still a good sport in the world.
“Of course, if you have more money you can buy better riders, but cycling’s also a sport where you have to work behind the money. More money is better, but maybe it’d be better for the others to have [it].”
Italian Champion Elia Viviani raced for the team through 2017. Now he sprints for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, but welcomed the news for his rivals.
“I had no doubt they’d find a backer because a big team like that will find people to support and continue the product,” Viviani said.
“It’ll have a new name, but it’ll be the same. I’m sure they’ll have top riders to continue to be successful. And more money? That’s lucky for the riders, and how they manage the team.”