Team Sky continuing in 2020 with Colombia as the new sponsor is “very unlikely” despite recent talks, says general manager David Brailsford.
Brailsford was in Colombia this last week for the Tour Colombia, won by Miguel Angel López (Astana). Team Sky’s new recruit, Ivan Sosa placed second overall on home roads.
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“I am open to everything, if they call me…” Brailsford told Spanish outlet Marca. He added that a deal to back the team, which will lose Sky media after 10 years and six Tour de France wins, is “very unlikely.”
Sky announced in December it would no longer continue as the WorldTour team’s backer. Since, rumours have circulated that backers could come from the US, Israel, and now Colombia.
This week, Sky made a big push in Colombia with 21-year-old Sosa, 22-year-old Egan Bernal and Tour star Chris Froome.
Brailsford guided the team but also met with the Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, the sports secretary and businesses including oil company Ecopetrol.
“Colombian cycling has enormous potential, everyone knows it,” Brailsford continued.
“I have no doubt that Colombian cycling will continue to grow, Colombia has many possibilities to become the first world power. [Next year], I want to set up a training camp here before the race.”
Froome arrived ahead of the race this year and logged a massive 188 kilometres on day one, including a dirt and gravel pass on his Pinarello time trial bike.
In the race, Froome crashed on Saturday but placed 91st overall in his 2019 season debut.
“[The race was] very beautiful, very lively, as always, it has been followed by a large number of fans. For us the experience of last year had already been good, but I think this year the race has grown,” said Brailsford.
“This year, there have been more climbs and also more altitude than the past, which has made the tour more difficult for those coming from Europe. It is clear that the level of all the riders has been very high. They have given the race even more importance. It was a very nice race to start the season.”
Brailsford is keeping his cards close to his chest for a backer to continue the team, which currently runs on the sport’s biggest budget of around £34 million. However, he said early on that he would give himself a deadline of July, by the Tour de France, to secure a sponsor. If none is found he would tell his riders to look for other teams.
A report last month in La Gazzetta dello Sport said that Sky would continue backing the team without its name on the jersey at 70 per cent of its currently level in 2020 until Brailsford secured a deal.