Pan-European pay-television broadcaster Sky, and its parent company 21st Century Fox, have today (Tuesday) confirmed the sale of its eponymous UCI WorldTour cycling team to UK petrochemicals manufacturer Ineos.
The respective parties said Ineos will become the sole owners of Tour Racing Limited, the team’s holding company, from May 1 and will continue to fund the current team in full, honouring all existing commitments to riders, staff and partners.
The launch of the new-look Team Ineos will take place at the Tour de Yorkshire which starts in the English city of Doncaster on May 2.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and chief executive of Ineos, said: “Cycling is a great endurance and tactical sport that is gaining ever more popularity around the world. Equally, cycling continues to mushroom for the general public as it is seen to be good for fitness and health, together with easing congestion and pollution in city environments. Ineos is delighted to take on the responsibility of running such a professional team.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it has been mooted for several weeks. Sky in December initially said it would withdraw its backing at the end of 2019, but this has now been brought forward.
The team was launched in 2010 by the same people who masterminded British Cycling’s successes on the track at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with an ambition to produce the first British winner of the Tour de France by 2015. It has since secured eight successes across the sport’s three ‘Grand Tour’ events, including six British winners of the Tour de France.
Ratcliffe is a keen cycling fan and is said to have a net worth of £21bn (€24.5bn/$27.8bn). Jeremy Darroch, Sky Group chief executive, said: “We are pleased that the team’s future has been secured under new ownership. This brings to a close Sky’s decade-long involvement with cycling, which has created unprecedented success and inspired millions more people to cycle regularly.”
Sir Dave Brailsford, team principal, added: “Today’s announcement is great news for the team, for cycling fans, and for the sport more widely. It ends the uncertainty around the team and the speed with which it has happened represents a huge vote of confidence in our future.
“In Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, I know that we have found the right partner whose vision, passion and pioneering spirit can lead us to even greater success on and off the bike. It heralds the start of a hugely exciting new chapter for us all as Team Ineos.
“I would like to personally thank Jeremy Darroch, who over a decade ago had the vision to back us when others thought we were crazy. His support for the team through thick and thin has been remarkable and everyone at Team Sky thanks him for all he has done for our sport.”
The team said the practicalities of the ownership transfer are subject to further talks with the International Cycling Union (UCI).