According to a report in Marca, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has told Colombian journalists that any agreement between him and a Colombian backer for 2020 is "very unlikely".
Team Sky will lose their major sponsor at the end of this season, with rumours swirling at the recent Tour Colombia 2.1 stage race – which Brailsford attended – that Colombian oil and gas company Ecopetrol could be a potential new backer for the team next year.
Brailsford also met with Colombian president Ivan Duque and Coldeportes [sports ministry] director Ernesto Lucena – allegedly to discuss the possibility of Colombia establishing its first WorldTour team, with Pro Continental-level team Manzana Postobon having already taken part in the 2017 Vuelta a España.
However, as things stand – and despite Brailsford's enthusiasm for the South American country and in turn its enthusiasm for cycling – the search for a new main backer for the team that's home to four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and 2018 Tour champion Geraint Thomas still continues.
"I'm open to anything. Give me a call," Brailsford told journalists.
According to a recent report in La Gazzetta dello Sport, the state-backed Ecopetrol could have led a consortium of sponsors to take over Team Sky's sponsorship, and the company has close links to the Coldeportes sports ministry, having recently backed a strategy by President Duque to promote sport in Colombia.
"Colombian cycling has enormous potential – everybody knows that – but what we talked about with the Government was a private matter," said Brailsford. "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."
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