Matteo Tosatto has told the Spanish press that Team Sky will apparently have an agreement in place with a new main sponsor ahead of May's Giro d'Italia, and that who it is could also be announced then.
Talking to marca.com, the Italian – who's been a sports director at Sky since 2017, having retired as a pro rider with Saxo Bank the previous year – said that he thought that an announcement might have been made ahead of the Tour de France, but that it could now come sooner.
Speaking at the UAE Tour, Tosatto told Marca that Team Sky's management team has worked hard to allay any fears the riders may have had about their futures.
"Before the Giro, we should have an agreement [with a new sponsor] that will ensure the safety of the team," he said. "It was only going to be finalised ahead of the Tour, but we are likely to announce it before the Corsa Rosa.
"It will be European, from home – de casa," Tosatto added, suggesting – and subsequently confirming – that the possible scenario of Colombian backing was not going to happen, but perhaps suggesting that the new backer could be Italian – i.e. from his home country of Italy.
In early February, it was thought that a consortium of Colombian sponsors, led by state-controlled oil and gas company Ecopetrol, could be in the running to back the WorldTour team in place of Sky, with the current main sponsor stepping away at the end of the 2019 season.
However, while attending the Tour Colombia 2.1, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford moved a few days later to say that such a scenario was "very unlikely", despite his enthusiasm for the country and its love of cycling – and despite a meeting with Colombia's President Duque and the sports ministry.
"Colombian cycling has enormous potential – everybody knows that – but what we talked about with the Government was a private matter," Brailsford said at the time. "However, I have no doubt that Colombian cycling will continue to grow. Colombia has a real possibility to become one of the world's leading cycling nations."
It was a sentiment echoed this week in Dubai by Tosatto, who confirmed that the possibility of a Colombian sponsor taking over was now no longer the case.
"It's true that it was a possible avenue, but it hasn't happened," the 44-year-old said. "Although the country has some great riders and a lot of passion for cycling, we weren't able to come to an agreement."