Bradley Wiggins believes that cycling could suffer if Team Sky were to fold at the end of the 2019 season. The former Team Sky rider said that the company should be thanked for their investment in the sport, but said that they had been ‘hammered’ instead.
Broadcaster Sky announced last week that it are pulling out of the sport at the end of the 2019 season after 10 years of sponsorship, with 21st Century Fox also due to end its partnership with the team next year. Wiggins rode for the team between 2010 and 2015 and won their first Tour de France title in 2012.
“People need to be careful what they wish for because if Sky go now the sport will be worse off for it,” Wiggins told radio station TalkSport. “[Cycling] won’t disintegrate but it won’t have the profile it has enjoyed now. This day was always going to happen because the sport is so backward in some ways, the people that run it. It’s not corrupt but it’s so backward. There’s no money in the sport.
“Sky brought money but I’m talking about sponsors in general aside from Sky. Rather than be grateful for a company like Sky, people just hammered it.”
Team Sky have set themselves a deadline of July to find a new sponsor for the 2020 season. With a current budget in the region of £34 million, the team could struggle to find a new backer with the same purchasing power as they have enjoyed over the last 10 years. At worst, the team could fold or it could find itself operating under a heavily reduced budget. Wiggins thinks that it will be hard for Brailsford to find a like for like replacement.
“The time of that with the generation of cyclists and what Dave’s been able to do, we may never see it again,” he said.
“I can’t envisage them getting a sponsor like Sky - a UK company, wherever it’s owned these days but based in London - the size of the company coming and doing that for cycling. To replace them in order to carry on and cover the wage bill and the budget will be a tough thing to do and a tough thing to find.
“It’s the end of an era in some ways. That’s not to say the team can’t carry on but it’s whether they can find a sponsor with that much money and that much weight to cover the wage bill so they can keep everyone there.”