The Team Sky principal looks to the future as the key backer pulls out
Sir David Brailsford says he “can’t give any guarantees” but sees opportunities for Team Sky after its title sponsor announced it will pull its £34-million backing.
Telecommunications giant Sky helped team boss Brailsford begin the team for the 2010 season.
On Wednesday, Sky announced that the 2019 season would be its last.
It leaves Brailsford searching for a backer to keep the team, with stars Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, going ahead into the 2020 season.
“Who knows?” Brailsford told ITV when asked if team it would continue.
“I can’t give any guarantees but I’d like to think there are opportunities out there.”
Brailsford is said to have found out this week that Sky would pull its support of the British WorldTour teams.
The riders and staff met this week for a training camp in Mallorca, Spain.
The feeling is that nothing changes and Brailsford will pull an ace from his sleeve.
Much is at stake. Froome last year signed a contract that runs through 2020. Thomas this October re-signed through 2021 at an estimated £3.5 million annually.
A hefty £34-million budget, much more than its competitors, helps Brailsford sign those top riders and run what many see as the most efficient and advanced team.
“My personal responsibility at the minute is to make sure there is a future for the team, the riders and I take that very seriously,” Brailsford said.
“When I look forward it’s one of opportunity. Life changes; change leads to change and we’re used to dealing with change, so it’s pretty exciting, to be honest.
“I think we can look forward, we can look at new opportunities. We like to build things, that’s who we are as people, we like to build things. We’re not negative, we don’t worry. It’s a pretty exciting position to be in, actually, so I am pretty positive.”
Brailsford help give Great Britain its first Tour de France winner with Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012. Froome followed with four titles and Thomas took his this summer.
Bad news came with the high times.
Team Sky came under fire for its hiring policies, which included Doctor Geert Leinders – later banned for life for his work in Team Rabobank.
Critics argued it raced in the grey area by helping Wiggins receive TUEs to use powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone ahead of the grand tours.
And the Froome salbutamol scandal did not help last year, despite Froome being cleared of any wrongdoing.
Team Sky continued to win.
This season it ended as second best WorldTour team behind Quick-Step Floors and pulled in 43 wins, again second behind Quick-Step.
Brailsford looks ahead with “no regrets” regardless of what is the next phase.
“Obviously, there’s what we’ve achieved and that will never been taken away. It’s been fantastic,” he said.
“I think our record at the races and what we’ve achieved, the team that we’ve built, the way that we’ve raced, the way we’ve built the staffing team has been a fantastic journey, so we’ve got no regrets whatsoever and we look forward and to continue to build.”