Team Sky should succeed in finding a sponsor and continuing in 2020, say riders looking in from outside the British WorldTour team.
The super-team, with six Tour de France victories, are searching for a new financial backer after their sponsor for the last 10 years, Sky media, announced 2019 would be its last. The stakes are high with a current operation budget of £34 million and a staff of around 70.
“I can’t imagine that [team principal David Brailsford] doesn’t have anything, he’s always well-organised and well-prepared. I can’t imagine the team folding. It’d be hard for the sport, we need more jobs, not less jobs,” Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s never easy to get €42m from anyone. I don’t know, these days sponsorship contracts are always hard, and with Brexit it’s not any easier for a British team.”
The Irishman races for German team Bora-Hansgrohe, this week competing in Argentina at the Vuelta a San Juan with several top teams.
Team Sky began the season in the Tour Down Under and continue in the Tour Colombia next month, where Chris Froome begins his season.
“I think the team will continue,” said Bernhard Eisel (Dimension Data), a former Sky rider.
“It’d be good for the sport, the people employed, riders and staff. They’ve made a great impact in the years, people like their approach. They have definitely made the sport better.”
Team Sky brought in more money when the team began in 2010 but also a new management and training approach. Since, they won the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins in 2012, Geraint Thomas in 2018, and Froome four times.
However, several top teams struggle to find money even if they are successful on the road. Patrick Lefevere fights every season to find a big budget backer even if his team Deceuninck – Quick-Step has topped the list of wins for teams the last couple of years.
“I read that if they don’t find a new sponsor the team will continue, so I’m not really worried that they won’t continue,” Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) explained.
“They will have to find a new sponsor in the future, but they had good performances so in normal life they should find a sponsor, but we’ve al seen how hard it is with Patrick to find a sponsor.”
Keisse referred to a report earlier this month in La Gazzetta dello Sport. It said that Comcast, the American communications giant that bought broadcaster Sky recently, may offer 70 per cent of the team’s budget through to 2021 while Brailsford continues searching.
So far, Brailsford has not announced anything. He has given himself a deadline of July and the Tour de France. If he fails it would force riders on the market and many may have to take pay cuts when negotiating.
“If they get something mid-season or before, it’d be good for the market,” Bennett continued.
“I think it’s kind of bad also because my contract is up at the end of the year. There’d be many people on the market [if the team folds]. I’m coming into my best years I don’t want a pay cut.
“It’d be better for the teams if Sky collapses but better for the riders if it stays.”
“I haven’t thought about [the team folding],” Keisse said. “But when you have the best riders, especially Grand Tour riders on the market… Who doesn’t want a Grand Tour contender? Prices drop and it’ll shake up the whole market.”