Team Sky made a surprise announcement on Wednesday morning that they were searching for a new backer for 2020 after the media company Sky decided to end its partnership with the team following 10 seasons of sponsorship. They are also set to lose 21st Century Fox at the end of next season. The team members were informed of the news on Tuesday evening ahead of the public announcement the following morning.
"It was a bit of a shock and disappointing but it doesn't mean it's the end of the team,” Thomas told ITV News from the team’s training camp in Mallorca.
"There are a lot more opportunities out there, and when you look, it's one of the strongest sports teams in the world, not just in cycling but in sport in general, so I think it's an amazing opportunity for other sponsors and for us to have different partners. Obviously, it's a big unknown but it's exciting at the same time.”
Thomas has been with the team since its debut in 2010 and recently penned a new three-year contract with them after winning his first – and their sixth – Tour de France title in July. Along with Thomas, the team signed several long-term extensions with their current roster, including a five-year deal with Egan Bernal. The team has set a deadline of next year’s Tour de France to find a new backer, but they do risk losing a number of their top riders if they struggle to find a new sponsor.
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Thomas’ teammate Wout Poels also expressed his surprise at the news but he remains positive that team principal Dave Brailsford will find a new backer for the 2020 season. However, Poels will be a free agent after next year with his current three-year deal set to come to an end next December and he says he’s not going to stress himself too much thinking about what is to come. He has already been linked to the growing Jumbo-Visma team.
"I knew that Sky was sold to Comcast, so I wondered at the time what that would mean for us,” Poels told de Telegraaf.
"But that this would be the result, I did not expect it so soon. You know, of course, that this happens cycling. Sponsors come and go, and Sky has been in cycling since 2008. I have been part of that for five years. A time in which I have experienced many beautiful things.
"We have another year to go, do we not? It could happen that another sponsor comes in. I'm confident that Dave will do that. But you know, I'm not going to worry about it, because I have no control over it. It only costs energy."
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