Bike brand Pinarello will support Team Sky beyond 2019, convinced that team manager Dave Brailsford can find a new title sponsor to replace Sky and so keep the team alive.
Pinarello has been Team Sky's bike sponsor since the British WorldTour team was created for the 2010 season, sharing in the team's success at the Tour de France and other races over the years. Pinarello invests close to €4 million per season via its sponsorship and supplies hundreds of frames, securing it a place on the Team Sky jersey and the prestige of winning Grand Tours and other major races.
The Italian bike brand extended its sponsorship in 2016, with the deal set to run until the end of 2020 but on Wednesday Sky and 21st Century Fox announced they would end their sponsorship and ownership of the team.
Dave Brailsford admitted to the BBC that potential new backers for the team had already been in touch, saying the team has a future beyond Sky. He seemed optimistic for the future despite Sky's decision.
Fausto Pinarello - the CEO of Pinarello, revealed to Cyclingnews that he had also been contacted by people interested in taking over sponsorship in 2020. He gave his full support to Brailsford, rather than look for alternative teams for his bikes.
Pinarello will sponsor Axel Merckx's Hagens Berman Axeon's team and the Scandinavian Riwal CeramicSpeed in 2019 but will do all they can to help Brailsford keep Team Sky alive.
"I'm confident that the team will continue and continue to be successful. I've also had calls from people who are interested too and that's a sign of just how good a team Team Sky is, people want to be part of it," Fausto Pinarello told Cyclingnews from Taiwan.
"Some have suggested that Dave Brailsford will struggle to find a sponsor that will invest the same amount of money as Sky but I don't agree. I think there will be plenty of major brands that can afford and will be willing to put their name on the jersey. It doesn't need one name to put in a massive amount, it could be two brands that share the sponsorship costs."
- Sky to end sponsorship after 2019
- Team Sky set 2019 Tour de France as deadline to find new sponsors
- Team Sky created 'brilliant sponsor template' but may struggle to find replacement
- Chris Froome: We are not finished by any means
- Acquadro confident Brailsford can save Team Sky
- Geraint Thomas: Sky pulling out is amazing opportunity for other sponsors
Some have suggested that rival teams will be happy to see the demise of Team Sky or at least a reduction in its ability to dominant the Tour de France.
Despite recent revelations about Bradley Wiggins’ triamcinolone injections, the Jiffy bag scandal, the outcome of the British Parliamentary investigation and Chris Froome's salbutamol case, Pinarello argued that everyone has benefited from Team Sky's investment in professional cycling and the way Brailsford has used his high budget to change the sport.
"I suspect one or two people will be quietly happy that Sky have decided to end their sponsorship but deep down everyone knows that Team Sky has done a lot of good to professional cycling," Fausto Pinarello claimed.
"They have brought so much into the sport and made everyone work harder and better. So many teams have copied Team Sky in recent years and we all known that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We all owe a lot to Team Sky."
"Our bikes have won the Tour de France 14 times and so I think we knew how to make good bikes before Team Sky came along but they changed our mentality. It's helped us become a better bike company and helped us to make better bikes for our clients."