Sir Bradley Wiggins says cycling would be worse off if Team Sky fold after their main sponsor pulls out next year.
Wiggins, who became Britain’s first Tour de France winner with the team in 2012, said that broadcaster Sky should be thanked for their contribution to the sport over the last decade.
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In an interview with Talksport radio, retired pro Wiggins said finding a replacement sponsor to back the team will be tough.
The 38-year-old, who retired in 2016, said: “Sky have put so much into cycling and done so much for cycling. They should be thanked for the level they’ve helped.
“The amount of money they’ve put in over the last 10 years, it’s incredible really.
“The timing of that with the generation of cyclists, what [team principal Sir Dave Brailsford] wanted to do, I think we may never see it again.
“I can’t envisage them getting a sponsor like Sky, a UK company based in London, the size of the company, doing that for cycling.
“To replace them in order to carry on and cover the wage bill and the budget for next years is going to be quite a tough thing to do.”
Wiggins has been less than complimentary about his former team since leaving.
In February, he issued a warning to young riders claiming the British WorldTour outfit would “ruin” them.
He has also criticised Brailsford, calling him “self-serving” and “divisive”.
But in the TalksSport interview, Wiggins was more supportive of Sky’s involvement in cycling.
He said: “If Sky do go I think the sport will be worse off for it.
“The sport may not have the profile it’s enjoyed in the last years.
“Rather than be grateful for a company like Sky coming into cycling, people just hammer it and hammer it.
“Now they’ve gone, be careful what you wish for.”
Earlier this month, British broadcaster Sky announced that it would be pulling its sponsorship at the end of the 2019 season, leaving Team Sky without their main backer.
Brailsford has said he “can’t give any guarantees” but sees opportunities for the team to continue beyond next year.
The parent company Sky was recently taken over by American communication giant Comcast, leading to the departure of chairman James Murdoch, who had been a driving force behind the company’ cycling sponsorship.