Brailsford: Team Sky riders will be 'appropriately' looked after if no sponsor is found

Leaked letters from team boss and Sky offer riders assurances

Dave Brailsford has assured the entire Team Sky roster and staff that they will be paid as normal throughout the 2019 season and that if a new backer is not found for the 2020 season then they will be 'looked after appropriately'. This comes after a report in the Sunday Times suggested that Sky were willing to honour contracts in 2020 if riders were unable to find teams beyond next season.

Brailsford's assurances came in a letter addressed to all Team Sky staff and sent out a day after the news of Sky's withdrawal from the sport was announced internally. Cyclingnews has obtained a copy of the letter, which was issued in English, Italian and Spanish, from a source close to Team Sky.

"You will continue to be paid as normal throughout 2019 and if the Team is unable to continue after that, you will be looked after appropriately," Brailsford writes.

"The accompanying note from Sky reiterates this message. I know that they will deliver on their promise."

Sky's letter comes from Jeremey Darroch, the Group Chief Executive at the corporation.

"As Dave has already told you, Sky will be ending its involvement with cycling and our association with Team Sky at the end of next year. After a decade of unprecedented success, I couldn't be prouder of what we've achieved together. It's been an amazing journey, but now is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky's story and turn our focus to different things," Darroch says.

"We appreciate that our decision to move on creates uncertainty and I want you to know that we will support you through the next period. We are fully committed to Team Sky for 2019 and we will do everything we can to help secure a future for the Team from 2020 under new ownership. If that is not possible, we will ensure that everyone is properly looked after, as we always do."

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A number of Team Sky riders signed new contracts in recent months, including 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and young Colombian climber Egan Bernal, who signed a five-year extension after this year's Tour.

Team leader Chris Froome still has several years left on his current deal, while Luke Rowe also signed a new two-year deal at the end of this season. Another talented Colombian, Ivan Sosa, is joining the team on a three-year deal after a much-publicised transfer saga between various rider agents, Team Sky and Trek-Segafredo. Several riders, however, are out of contract at the end of 2019, including former world champion, Michal Kwiatkowski.

Brailsford remains determined to find a backer for the team beyond next year and has set July as a deadline in order to secure a title sponsor to replace the reported 35 million Euros that Sky currently invests each season.

"Whilst this decision comes sooner than anticipated, the recent changes at Sky have marked the start of a new era for the company and sometimes it is inevitable that change brings further change with it," Brailsford writes.

"In this Team, we have become experts at dealing with unexpected challenges and change, and we have always shown great resilience and calm to fight our way to victory in the face of adversity. And this is exactly what we are going to do here.

"Starting right now, we are determined to do everything within our powers to turn the page, close the Sky chapter and open a new one with another partner to keep our incredible team together.

"We all know that this is not going to be an easy challenge. However, to optimise our chances of success we will need to stick together and keep performing both on and off the bike. It is easy in these situations to get frustrated and lose focus, but we must not let our heads drop. We will need to support each other and show great courage and conviction to make our ambitions become a reality."

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