Dave Brailsford had planned to launch the new sponsorship and new colours in the UK, home turf for the British-registered team and the petrochemical company run by Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe.
When the replacement for long-term sponsor Sky was announced, it was stated that Ineos would become the sole owners of Tour Racing Limited (the team’s holding company) from May 1, with the Tour de Yorkshire to start in Doncaster on May 2.
However, practical problems emerged with the new registration due to the overlap with the Tour de Romandie, which starts two days earlier on April 30. Under UCI regulations, the team were not able to compete in separate races under different names, nor change names part-way through a race, and so the birth of Team Ineos had to be brought forward.
On Monday, at a press conference for the Tour de Romandie in Morat, Switzerland, Team Ineos were unveiled as one of the 20 teams for the six-day WorldTour race beginning on April 30.
However, the team are holding back some suspense for the UK ‘launch’ - where a team presentation is set for the eve of Yorkshire - by delaying the big reveal of their new kit and colours.
After discussions and a compromise with the UCI and both race organisers, Geraint Thomas and his teammates will race the whole of the Tour de Romandie in a one-off black jersey with the Ineos logo on the front. That will be the only race in which the kit will be used. From May 2, while Romandie is still being raced in black, Sky’s Tour de Yorkshire riders will line up in Doncaster in the new colours and kit.
Ineos was announced as the new owner and sponsor on March 19, after broadcaster Sky announced it would end its near-10-year backing of the team. Sky's deal ran to the end of 2019 but, after Ineos confirmed its arrival, all parties agreed to make the change part-way through the season.
Ineos and Ratcliffe are understood to have the funds to maintain the team's financial might. However, the partnership has already attracted controversy, with a number of environmental groups accusing the company of 'greenwashing' - or using the sponsorship to distract from their poor environmental reputation. Ineos is one of Europe’s largest producers of single-use plastics and has come under fire in the UK over its drive for fracking - the controversial method of extracting shale gas from the earth. Fracking has been proposed and resisted in the north of England and protests are expected when the team launches in Yorkshire.
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