Luke Rowe is confident that Dave Brailsford can save Team Sky after the broadcaster Sky announced last week that it would sever its long-term sponsorship with the team at the end of the 2019 season.
The news of Sky's departure was met with shock, with the riders and staff notified by Brailsford at the Team Sky's winter training camp in Mallorca, Spain.
"Dave stood up on stage and told us all to our face. I think that's a good way to it. If you tell people individually then word is going to get around through other sources," Rowe told Cyclingnews from camp.
"It came as a shock. I didn't see it coming but at the same time we've been spoilt over the last 10 years in having such a good backer, and we've got that backer again for next year."
Team Sky came into the WorldTour at the start of the 2010 season and have gone on to become the dominant force in stage racing, with six Tour de France wins in the last seven years. They have the largest budget in the WorldTour – a reported €35 million – while the Sunday Times has reported that Brailsford has returned to London to meet with prospective replacements.
Team Sky have given themselves until next year's Tour de France to find a new backer, and Rowe – who recently signed a contract extension into 2020 – believes that the team can secure their future.
"Again, I think we're spoilt as a team to have one sole backer who puts in the majority of the money. Of course, we've got other sponsors who contribute but to have that one consistent backer is a great position, and we're lucky to have had that, but a lot of teams have been in this position, year in and year out for the last five or six years, and they're still here. Whilst it's a shock that Sky are going to pull the pin in 12 months' time, once you sit down and rationalise it, it's quite normal for sponsors to come and go.
"I'm very confident in Dave, Fran [Millar – ed], and the senior management team that they'll go out and get another sponsor. That's what we're all hoping for. It would be a sad day if this team were to shut down and fold at the end of next year. I don't see it happening. It could happen and then you've got all the riders and staff on the market looking for jobs. I think that would affect the whole market. We've been one of the best teams in the last decade."
Rowe will kick start his season in Australia next month. While the news of Sky's departure is certainly a shock to him and the rest of his teammates, he is determined to keep his focus on racing and the things he can affect.
"You've got to put it to the back of your mind. Hopefully it won't drag on and we can secure a new sponsor. We want to make it our best year to date and I think we've got a great team. We want to get it done. For me, I'm just going to ride it like it's another contract year."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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