Team Sky will announce their new backer Ineos chemical company on Tuesday and likely change the team name prior to the 2019 Tour de France in three months, says a source.
The source explained to Cycling Weekly that team boss David Brailsford will announce the deal with Jim Ratcliffe on Tuesday, unsure if there will be a press conference in the UK or a media statement.
Sir Ratcliffe, 66, is the UK’s richest person. He had been linked to taking over the team – which lose Sky Media as lead sponsor after 10 years – with his Ineos company.
“The news will certainly come out tomorrow,” the source told Cycling Weekly.
“You’d imagine they would do a press conference in London or something, but it’s uncertain if it will be that or just a media statement.”
The news will see Ratcliffe continue Team Sky beyond the 10 years they have already raced, which includes six titles in the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
“It’s likely the name will change too,” said the source. “Before the Giro d’Italia? I don’t think so. Before the Tour de France, probably so.”
Last week, another source said that with Ratcliffe the budget will increase. Right now, the team runs on around £34 million annually, the biggest budget of cycling’s top WorldTour teams.
Tour de France 2018 winner Thomas spoke to Cycling Weekly and couple of other journalists on Friday at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race.
“If it’s sorted sooner, then everyone is a bit more at ease,” Thomas said.
“You’d hope to think that we’d find something. We are in the best position too, we are one of the best sports teams around, let alone in cycling so you’d hope we could find something.”
Early rumours had the team linked to potential backers from the US and from Colombia. Now, the team will keep their British roots firmly in place.
“If they stay British and they keep the same values then that’ll be a bonus,” said Thomas. “Any sponsor coming into the sport is good news.”
It is unclear if Thomas, Chris Froome or recent Paris-Nice winner Egan Bernal will attend an event, if there is one, announcing the team’s new backer.
The source said that the team could become Sky-Ineos or Ineos-Sky, or just Ineos, already by the time the Tour de France starts in Brussels on July 6.