According to a report in L'Equipe this morning, Team Sky could possibly end their association with Italian bike manufacturers Pinarello and may sign an agreement with US giants Specialized. The paper goes as far as to claim that the agreement would be worth an estimated six million Euros per year to the British team.
Sky and Pinarello have enjoyed a fruitful relationship that has seen them sweep up a host of big race wins over the last couple of seasons. In the off season the team acquired the services of road world champion Mark Cavendish, who swapped his Specialized Venge for a Pinarello Dogma 2 as part of the deal. Now it is being reported that Cavendish might be free to reacquaint himself with his former bike for the 2013 season.
Conversely, it is easy to see why Specialized or other manufacturers might be drawn to the Team Sky brand, which has grown considerably on a global level over the last couple of years. If the deal goes through it will be fascinating to see if Specialized simply add the British team to its current ProTour stable, or if they choose to end agreements with either Astana, Saxo Bank or Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
When asked about the proposed deal by Cyclingnews this morning, a Team Sky spokesperson denied that a deal with any other manufacturer was close and stated that the team was considering all options available to them: "All we are prepared to say is that we firmly remain a Pinarello team and that we are not prepared to comment on contractual speculation at this point. We are in discussion with a number of manufacturers and we are not close to make any sort of decision or announcement," she said.