Chris Froome, Dave Brailsford and Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe officially launched Team Ineos ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire on Wednesday. The press conference held in the small village of Linton was attended by a small number of media, including Cyclingnews, with Froome himself unveiling the new team kit.
Ineos took over from Sky as the owner and main sponsor of the team as of May 1 after Sky announced its departure towards the end of 2018.
"This is a momentous day for the team, our fans and cycling in general," said Dave Brailsford.
"We are hugely excited about the future with Ineos at the helm."
The location of the press conference, held in a pub in the Yorkshire countryside, was kept secret until this morning due to concerns over protestors attending. Ineos, a petrochemical company, has faced criticism from environmental groups, notably due to its involvement in fracking within the British county.
Jim Ratcliffe attempted to laugh off the fact that 15,000 face masks with his image and devil horns had been produced ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire, where the team will make their official debut in their new red and black colours.
"I wouldn't want to get involved in fracking if it was dangerous. All you do is pump water down. I think it's a real shame that the north of England is being deprived of cheaper energy, and it's outrageous that the government listens to a small noisy minority instead of looking at the science," Ratcliffe said at the press conference.
The businessman, listed as Britain's most wealthy individual, would not confirm the length of the contract held for the team, only confirming that his vision was long-term rather than short-term.
"It's the finest cycling team in the world, the finest riders in the world," Ratcliffe added.
Dismissing the notion of hypocrisy
Last year, ahead of the Tour de France, Team Sky launched a partnership with Ocean Rescue in a bid to spread awareness of the pollution problems associated with the use of plastics. They wore jerseys with the image of a whale on the back, along with the #passonplastic slogan, and pledged to remove all single-use plastics from their business operations by 2020.
At the time, the move was widely accepted as a promotion of a worthy cause but, since the announcement of Ineos' takeover, the team's management has been criticised for perceived hypocrisy. On Wednesday Brailsford dismissed the notion that the team had altered their stance.
"If anyone that can do anything about it, it's these guys," he said in relation to Ineos, who are among the biggest producers of plastic materials in the world.
"Sky promoted awareness on plastics. We're not giving up our single-use plastic ambition at all. Whereas Sky raised the awareness, Jim and the team are the guys that can do something about it. If anything, it's a step in the right direction."
Ratcliffe looked to echo that sentiment, saying: "This is about cycling, really, rather than plastics and fracking. Very briefly, we're doing a lot to improve technology to improve plastics recycling. There's science going into solving that problem. Plastics are essential to modern life. If you're in hospital on a drip, it's plastic. Your food is wrapped in plastic so it doesn't go off. Plastic has value in our life but we don't chuck it in the sea. 90 per cent of the problem is people chucking it in the sea, but we don't do that.
"It's not a Team Ineos thing. That's different to the fracking issue. The most regulated country by a country mile is the US, and they have drilled a million wells or more in America. In the UK we are sat on some potentially extraordinary reserves. Gas is a clean fuel and it creates jobs and investment. Why wouldn't you look at exploiting that in the UK? If I look at the anti-fracking groups, the majority of them are ignorant about fracking. I wouldn't want to get involved in it if it was dangerous. All you do is pump water down, it just loosens the rock a bit. Cheap energy encourages investment in manufacturing. It's outrageous that the government listen to a noisy miniscule minority instead of looking at the science."
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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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