Ineos To Takeover Team Sky

It’s official, UK petrochemicals firm Ineos will take over from Sky as the new team sponsor and the newly branded kit will be unveiled on 1 May at the Tour of Yorkshire. Here’s a look at a few related things, from changing kit mid-season to budget talk.

It’s official but there’s only a holding statement for now. The story seems to have leaked out recently, going from the speculative to the certain in the last week. It was announced today but Ineos also announced it’s bought a US chemicals firm for $700 million today which is obviously a big deal but that’s what Ineos does. Taking over Team Sky is newsworthy to the point of being visible on the home pages of various British news websites from the BBC and the Financial Times, where the cycling team gets covered rather than the US deal.

The formal launch will be at the Tour of Yorkshire in May. It’ll make a useful starting point as it’ll assemble the British media and the cycling media in one place, and Chris Froome is due to ride. It’ll be interesting to see if Ineos’s founder Jim Ratcliffe is involved publicly with the team or keeps his distance in the media, like James Murdoch did with Team Sky when he might have sat in the team car but he didn’t go in front of the microphones. We’ll learn more then, for example are Ineos interested in track cycling like Sky used to be (Anglo-Asian bank HSBC has the deal with British cycling)? Could there finally be a women’s team?

A chemicals company opens up all sorts of headlines, from the obvious, to talk of “Ineos hoping for right chemistry between Froome and Thomas in July” et cetera. The news has been greeted by variations on the dislike of chemicals, but probably not from people typing their disapproval on bamboo keyboards, and whose weekend sport involves glass bidons, raw latex tires and riding exclusively in wool shorts. Unlikely, eh? Admit it, we’re all complicit in using plastics, it’s just the extent of our consumption that varies, as well how we dispose and recycling afterwards. Even if recycling sounds green, for some time it’s meant shipping it across the planet to China for rudimentary treatment , a practice that the Chinese finally got fed up with. Cycling’s already got complicated sponsors like the Kazakh, UAE and Bahrain states and an oligarch on a US watchlist. What’s true here is that the sponsor could have been different, so perhaps the outcry is that of hopes being deflated, a very public puncture.

The Murdoch media empire certainly has its detractors but it also has millions of consumers; perhaps it’s possible to be both? But the brand of Sky is a consumer-facing one while Ineos isn’t, nobody can go and buy some Ineos unless you’re in the market for tonnes of liquid polymers. So it’ll be interesting to see if the company attracts as much popular support come July from British fans. Presumably part of the sponsorship is to win over the public and if rooting for a petrochemicals producer sounds hard, remember that mining chemicals company Orica managed just that. To attend the Tour de France is to see hundreds of thousands standing beside the road in Cofidis t-shirts, and so presumably Ineos will be adopted in time too.

Going into detail, Team Sky is Tour Racing Limited, the British corporate entity that has been owned by Sky and 21st Century Fox. Ineos isn’t a new sponsor, it will be the new owner. It’s possible it’s paid Sky because it is acquiring a World Tour licence but equally Sky may have sold it for a proverbial pound just to become free of the sponsorship liabilities and hand over in a friendly manner. It doesn’t matter much, and wouldn’t tell much of the value of a World Tour team licence as these depend on the circumstances. Dariusz Miłek got CCC reasonably cheap, Oleg Tinkov – remember? – paid millions to get his in a rush off Bjarne Riis.

This change of ownership isn’t a problem under the UCI rules, part of which are shared with the Professional Cycling Council, a group of pro cycling stakeholders. FDJ last year went from becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the French state lottery to a 50-50 joint venture with Groupama. They also changed their kit sans problème too, the rules and precedent allow for mid-season changes like this, see Belkin, Blanco, Highroad and more. Or note that Direct Energie is going to become Team Total before Ineos arrives in pro cycling, with the French oil major having taken over Direct Energie in 2018 and opening the possibility of an even bigger team in the future but that’s another story.

The big question is what the budget will be. Or even if there is one. Sky seemed to supply an open credit line rather than a pre-set amount of money. Several articles commenting on the news have seen Team Sky’s headline budget of £34.5 million – the last reported figure, for the 2017 season – and made the mistake of equating this with the sum needed for replacement sponsorship. But remember that number is the total budget, it’s Sky’s spending plus that of Ford, Pinarello, Castelli and other sponsors, plus income from race appearance fees, prize money and more.

We know from the accounts that the “title sponsors revenue” was £25.3m for 2017, this is the component of the budget that Ineos is filling. At a guess the money is going to be as big, Ineos is unlikely to come on board only to suffer stories of decline and cutbacks.

The deal comes at the right time, the rider market starts to come alive now. There’s a UCI rule that says riders can’t sign a contract with a rival team until 1 August and the intention is to stop a free-for-all but it’s part ignored, part worked-around. Vincenzo Nibali apparently talked to Trek-Segafredo the other day and teams are busy on their marquee riders who will cost them millions and define further recruitment, ie hire a grand tour contender and you’ll want mountain lieutenants who are handy in a team time trial and so on, preferably those who speak your leader’s language too. So there’s unlikely to be an exodus from Team Sky. Finally Ineos is a British company but with operations around the world so the cycling team is likely to keep its British flag but without having to recruit any target riders for nationality-based marketing ideas.

Farewell Sky and hello Ineos, or rather INEOS as apparently they prefer capitals. Sky is leaving just short of a decade in the sport but the team rides on with an interruption that’s as brief as a bike change. It’s the same structure and under the same management with Dave Brailsford at the helm so it could just be a change in branding. That matters in a small way because like or not Sky is a consumer brand with millions of customers and Ineos isn’t, it’s hard for the public to have a relationship to it. There will be new kit to unveil and it’s unlikely to be that different. The big question is the budget, will this be as big as ever?

107 thoughts on “Ineos To Takeover Team Sky”

  1. Be careful what you wish for.

    No doubt this is good news for the riders and staff of Team Sky, whether that joy will be shared by others outside the team is rather a different matter.

    I would imagine there would be some rather glum faces inside UCI towers in Aigle. Constructing a Financial Fair Play scheme is not easy, especially when the biggest team can afford better lawyers than the governing body, perhaps they can ask UEFA for some pointers.

    Patrick Lefevere must wonder how it can be that he can run the most successful cycling team around, yet struggles to find proper funding but Dave Brailsford can replace one deep pocketed corporate benefactor with another with even deeper pockets without even seeming to break sweat.

    As for the other team principles they know that the cost of hiring riders has just gone up along with all expense of wind tunnels, dietitians, team staff, mobile office blocks etc etc. There are few organisations who are willing or able to come up with 10s of millions of Euros annually to see another team dominate Grand Tour bike racing. Leaving the other teams increasingly looking like Marseille or Lille to Paris Saint Germain.

    Of course there is the added benefit that Team Sky will be history come the 1st of May, questions about jiffy bags or discredited doctors or whatever will belong to a team that no longer exists (or at least will appear to no longer exist).

    On a more personal note, to me this feels a long way away from the original concept of setting up a British team capable of winning the Tour, more like Dave Brailsford’s desire for world domination. I am sure Egan Bernal will be a great champion but it all feels far too much like the huge amount of money poured into Manchester City or PSG by those looking to burnish their egos or give a sheen of respectability to a dubious regime. The soul of the sport is in danger of being lost in a pursuit of corporate success.

    • In a sense now is the right time for Sky to leave, even if we leave aside the scandal side of things. As you say Sky came on the scene as a British team wanting to win with British riders. I think this has been taken as far as it could realistically go and Sky have already moved on to a more international affair. The Sky of Paris-Nice with Bernal and Kwiatkowski dominating is likely how a Team Ineos will look. In a sense Sky got very lucky with the golden generation of British riders. But now Wiggins is long gone, Froome is approaching the end, Thomas isn’t far off and Cavendish, who was only briefly associated with them, seems a spent force. If they stuck to the British theme they’d have to get Simon Yates and then hope for a very mountainous tour. Other than that they’d be relying on Doull and Rowe as mediocre classics riders. That would put them about on a par with Lotto, which probably isn’t worth the investment!

      • Simon Yates, winner of TTs is the one you are talking about who need a mountainous TdF?

        Luckily, Simon is more into Giro and Vuelta than the Fame tour. Not interested in posing, rather cycling. A real racer which already have palmares to behold for everyone. And a teammate, leading the bunch -100km to finish in sprint stages for his team(sure, it was training). Great respect for him, can’t see him in Sky/Ineos/BC, ever – he would’a been there already.

        On topic: Sky, Ineos.
        Same old story. Most sponsors are not really liked. Did you think Mapei team made a lot of people making their own concrete and grout their own holes(?). No, that was not the case.

        The only team vaguely might have some coast of their sponsor is Bora in procycling these days, although I have tried their downpour steam accessories, and it’s shit, which should be Hansgrohe.

        • But to keep the Yates, Mitchelton-Scott had to let go riders like Magnus Cort Neilson – a promising young rider they’d been developing & others.

  2. The YouTube video on plastics recycling in China is just…I don’t know.
    Sometimes you despair about humanity.
    But we’re all guilty aren’t we?

  3. I don’t think that this noise will be greeted with unalloyed joy in the UK. Ratcliffe is a polarising figure. He vocally supported Brexit, yet lives in Monaco to avoid taxes, and I understand that Ineos support fracking in the UK.
    Sponsor wise the team may find that they’ve jumped out of the Murdoch frying pan into a chemical fire.

    • Supporting brexit and living in a tax free haven go hand in hand. Bottom line – more profit. It’s disgusting, since when it goes tits up they can blame it on the xenophobic man on the street who voted leave because the media have trained him to hate Pakistanis and Poles. Or better still, the government, who everybody has had enough of.

      • Yep, loads of working class Brexit supporters living in Monaco with cyclists as there neighbours. Did the Murdoch media train people to hate Sky?

  4. Well, I was wrong, I was sure they wouldn’t be able to replace a sponsor with someone with the same budget, and it appears they’ve done that – or better!

    It’ll be interesting to see how they manage the Froome/Thomas TDF conundrum going forward, I’m really hoping for some Lemond/Hinault competitiveness between the two in July. I suppose we needn’t worry too much about Ineos dominance if they produce good enough intra-team competition. Although I’m sure that if such competition were to occur this year, the team wouldn’t allow it to happen again next year.

  5. I’m not sure how much Orica improved their corporate image through their sponsorship, but the Greenedge team gained a lot of fans via their personalities and style of racing as promoted in their backstage pass videos. What Orica the company got out of it was likely far less than the goodwill and positive reputation the team generated for itself during those years.

    If Ineos wanted to make a splash with cycling fans perhaps a slightly reduced team budget and not winning the Tour de France this year would be a good start….

    • Said with all the reasoned negativity of some one with a prejudice.

      Undoubtedly sponsorship of sports teams does improve the image of a company. This is not something that is tangible, marketing and advertising might help improve sales, but you don’t know pure effect, though with INEOS it’s likely to be just about improving the corporate outlook. Perhaps they are aware of the rich CEO investors who cycle and will place orders for their products, but that they can get a ‘green’ message out there. However, they may not be aware that Brailsford and co are a little tainted themselves.

      I don’t care if INEOS/Sky win. There is a stain against their victories, but rarely are there teams and riders where this is not the case. Valverde stinks up Movistar, while both Nibali and Aru are tainted by their work with the Kazakh.

    • So the way to benefit from paying for a team is to hope that it doesn’t win the biggest prize in the sport?

      Blimey,,I hope you are not running a multi national company.

  6. ‘probably not from people typing their disapproval on bamboo keyboards, and whose weekend sport involves glass bidons, raw latex tires and riding exclusively in wool shorts.‘

    I do find this line of argument a little bit crass.. whilst it’s true the world currently relies on petrochemical products, they’re also slowing killing us. writing off anyone who wishes to try and move away from them and not support businesses who are trying to lock us into an oil based future, as hypocrites is a little weak.

    I find the lack of moral leadership in cycling frankly pretty depressing – when our sport is a billboard for pollutants, tyrants and torturers and thinking that might be undesirable is passed off as naive, is a sad place to be.

    Worth noting we’ve banned booze and tobacco companies from advertising in sport and so morality in sports advertising is not such incongruous idea.

    • It’s not to write this off, it was more to point out how difficult it is to avoid plastics.

      Note Deceuninck (PVC windows), Quickstep (plastic flooring), Soudal (chemical adhesives), Hansgrohe (polymer shower hoses, heads etc), Alpecin (shampoo bottle and contents rely on industrial chemicals), CCC (plastic shoe soles), Scott and Trek (carbon frames are synthetic chemicals for the carbon and resin) and we’ve done half the World Tour already before we get to Androni plastic toys, Gazprom, what’ll be Team Total soon etc.

      PS alcohol is allowed as sponsor, wine and beer are ok but spirits are excluded under the UCI rules.

      • Cycling as a sport is one of the most unenviromentally friendly sports when added all up. From riders flying in, to all the support vehicles, the cars that sit in a convoy of 30+ idling along at slow speeds most of the time. The countless motorbikes, the helicopters and plane for the TV pictures, the bidons, the jerseys, the food wrappers, the water wasted every night of a race washing bikes, the team buses, the kitchen trucks….i could go on.

        as for “I find the lack of moral leadership in cycling frankly pretty depressing – when our sport is a billboard for pollutants, tyrants and torturers and thinking that might be undesirable is passed off as naive, is a sad place to be” name a sport that isnt reliant on questionable sponsorship – football is betting, rugby is alcohol to name just two.

        • Is it really, when all added up? Do you have any evidence for that? How many people have taken up cycling from watching the Tour de France? What impact does pro cycling have on public health, number of people commuting etc? I grant you that the biggest races have an excessive caravan of cars and motorbikes and helicopters, but that’s only a tiny few races compared to the vast majority of amateur and lower professional ranked races. I’m guessing, and it’s only a guess, that the sport of cycling has a less harmful impact on the environment and public health than you’ve allowed for.

          • “Is it really, when all added up? Do you have any evidence for that?”

            Exactly. And then think of spectator sports like football, where 20 teams complete at least 20 times throughout the year in differing locations, requiring tens of thousands of people to make a rather unnecessary long journeys to go and watch people kick a ball about for 90mins.

    • Alex, I find it a very pertinent line of argument. I spent part of last night arguing with green activists who seem to have suddenly realised that competitive cycling exists due to this new team ownership. These activists were people who don;t like fracking. What they couldn;t tell me, though, is why if they hate fracking that it has anything to do with Dave Brailsford, Chris Froome or Egan Bernal. It doesn’t. There argument is with someone else but certainly NOT a cycling team. These same people, when asked, all seemed to drive cars, use plastic, etc., and none of them lived in mud huts disconnected from wider society and its environmentally damaging ways.

      This IS a basic hypocrisy yet it remains the more important point that if you have environmental concerns Dave Brailsford’s door is NOT the right door to be knocking on.

      • I personally think plastics are great materials. Light, durable and versatile. Also to some degree recyclable. One of the reasons I think burning oil in combustion engines is a waste of ressources. I think the main problems are the “use once – dispose” mentallity (which is still a problem if one uses organic and/or renewable materials) and very dodgy recycling models/schemes.

        But fracking is highly problematic and damaging to the enviroment and to the people (not only those living in/close to fracking gorunds), also not really economically (without the tradewar against Russia, nobody would buy fracking gas). And while I concur that Mr. Brailsford is not personally destroying the planet by pumping chemical cocktails into the ground , it is not unlikely to assume that INEOS wants positive PR via the team’s success to polish their image and either take out fracking of the public mind or even make it acceptable in the public eye. And surely it is ok to question Mr Brailsford’s decision to support this takeover. Because even if Sky owned the team, I think his word has heft. But on moral decisions…Mr. Brailsford always seemed to be a man with goals but without moral consciousness.

        • If people didn’t use cheaper, hydrocarbon based fuels, fracking would not be a business, it is the consumer, not the supplier, who is at fault.

          • Unfortunately it is not the consumer who decides.
            Nobody in Europe would buy the expensive fracking gas from the US if the US government had not imposed the trade embargo on Russia and threatened the EU if the would not follow suit. So the consumer cannot choose at all, the consumer has to take what the suppliers offer.
            And that is not conspiracy theory, see e.g. the actual US ambassador in Germany threatening German companies if they continue their engagement in North Stream 2.

    • “I do find this line of argument a little bit crass.. whilst it’s true the world currently relies on petrochemical products, they’re also slowing killing us.” It you look at the world life expectancy rates and how they have changed over the last 50, 75 years or longer, you’ll find a direct correlation with the increased use of petrochemical products. So are you sure it’s killing us?

    • Still typing on my old 2kg IBM Model M from 89. Not exactly bamboo, but a long term solution while others wasted dozens of crappy plastic keyboards over the last decades. So guess I’m allowed to still hate shady petro-capitalists.

    • “Well you can’t get rid of all plastic use!” is a really poor argument for not getting rid of the plastics you /can/.

      And yeah, I have woollen bib shorts. They’re really comfortable actually. The major problem with them is they’re so expensive, cause next to no-one makes them, bar some very boutique cycle clothing outfits.

  7. Final point that should be made is it is no coincidence that Ineos, a company deeply invoked in fracking in the UK, which is deeply unpopular with the public, are now associating themselves with what is perceived to be a green sport..

    • but how green is it?… sure it’s based on pedal power, but the caravan of slowly chugging cars and team buses, riders lobbing bidons and wrappers all over the countryside etc.
      Riding your bike more to replace cars etc is green, but road racing doesn’t look like a particularly green sport to me.

      I wonder whether the Radcliffe /Brailsford connection is mutually beneficial – Brailsford keeps his show on the road, Radcliffe gets his arms around a superb admin/organiser type in case he does get hold of Chelsea or some other bigger fish for Brailsford to whip into shape…

    • It is perhaps no coincidence that “the newly branded kit will be unveiled on 1 May at the Tour of Yorkshire” Ineos holds licences for fracking sites across Yorkshire and Lancashire, and they are actively engaged in lobbying the government to relax/ remove “absurd” rules designed to provide environmental protections such as halting drilling when earthquakes are triggered. Having the Ineous name carried around Yorkshire on cycling heroes’ jerseys and associated with positive stories on the sports pages is, I guess, intended to counter the negative headlines they are generating on the front pages.

      • “Having the Ineos name carried around Yorkshire on cycling heroes’ jerseys”…is, I fear, likely to be met by race-disrupting protests from anti-fracking campaigners.

      • Launching at Yorkshire makes sense for a British-focused team, as it’s the main British race before the TdF. (Presumably, though, they’ll need a soft launch at Romandie, as it starts 2 days earlier.)

        The fact that they’re carrying out exploratory drilling in Yorks is probably more of a hindrance, as the protestors will definitely be out in force. I wonder if the organisers will thank Ineos for the extra security costs?

  8. Good news for cycling in general I think. A continuation of a team that is willing to plough money into the sport to win, rather than to get its logo on TV. Now if only others would follow suit.

    • I’m impressed that you can live without hydrocarbons, plastic, solvents and the thousands of other chemicals INEOS produce. Or perhaps you can’t and you’re just a hypocrite.

    • It’s possible but there’s no direct connection which is different to millions having Sky TV, Sky internet etc. Ratcliffe is a billionaire because he owns and controls the company, if people have invested indirectly they might own a bit of debt in the company.

      • Ineos are reportedly launching a utility 4 x 4 vehicle from scratch, so sponsoring an already extant sports team would offer pretty much instant name recognition for their product. And with some handy cynical greenwashing thrown in.

        • it’s tied in with BMW. ratcliffe isn’t linking with some also-rans it’s a serious potential competitor to the likes of land/range Rover. he wants investment/backing/free money from the UK govt as it will be a potential job creator – v.useful at a time when Honda and Nissan are scaling down in the UK.

          • With no electric or hybrid versions planned, I think BMW are probably delighted to sell 25000 soon to be outmoded diesel and petrol powertrains to a demonstrably well funded outfit aiming at a niche market they don’t even compete in. Ratcliffe can certainly afford to lose the money.

          • Kind of a spiritual heir to classic Landrover Defender. Supposedly you can hose down the interior and they designed a plug to drain the water once you are done.

            Landrover was becoming too posh for Sir Ratcliffe.

    • Dave, not that likely actually. Ineos isn’t a listed company, is privately owned but does have some leverage loans, high yield bonds and CDS outstanding (trading at a spread of 320bps). Most of which don’t fit into your standard pension fund’s portfolio (via various credit investment funds that a pension fund may invest in) in any meaningful size. In fact, a lot of the vehicles that will own Ineos debt (CLOs) are funded by Japanese investors

      • (… not Dave)

        Fair enough – I hadn’t realised it was privately listed.

        The underlying point I was hinting at still stands though – i.e. How many of those who are outraged about the involvement of a petrochemicals company are heavily invested in the very same sector (albeit other companies), without even being aware of it? Probably most of them.

  9. Depressing that a major Brexit supporting, hypocritical tax dodger, is now heavily involved in cycling.
    Never been a fan of Sky but was hoping that they would survive with a smaller budget, to reduce some of the disparity between teams. Looks like if anything the budget disparity is going to increase.
    Unfortunately sport attracts unsavory characters, and cycling is no different.

    • Supporting Brexit does not make you a bad person; if that was true then Britain is an evil country. Different political opinions are allowed (this coming from a remainer).
      If only the most ethically sound businesses were allowed in then the already sketchy status of cycling sponsorship would blow up. People’s wages have to be paid and the sport has to develop.
      Stop the virtue signalling

      • What’s an “ethically sound” business? If you’re in business then all you do is follow the money trail and sooner or later you’re implicated in something “unsound”. The notion of an “ethically sound” business is as false as the notion that because you are an environmentalist you are not implicated in pollution even though you drive a 4×4, take foreign holidays, use electronic devices that contain precious metals, ate food that has been flown in from halfway around the world or trucked in from thousands of miles away, etc, etc, etc.

        This whole “its not my fault” fo shizzle is the thinking of the feeble-minded. If you live in society you’re implicated.

        And its still not Dave Brailsford, Chris Froome or Egan Bernal who can solve the problem.

  10. I would be interested to know who secured the deal with Ineso. Was this masterminded through Brailsford and his connections or did Ratcliffe/Ineso already looking to sponsor a team and this was lucky timing?

    If it was Brailsford, regardless what people think of him, know one can knock his management of the situation. And how quickly and seamlessly a sponsor and one the size of Ineos has been signed.

  11. On the plus side it provides more material for INRNG’s “The Wealthiest People in Pro-cycling”.

    Looking forward to the next edition – although presumably it won’t be for almost a year as we only just had one.

    I can’t believe the aggressiveness of some of the posts above – militant.

    • I agree re aggressiveness of posts. I almost replied to one but then I thought don’t feed the trolls. I always enjoy reading the informed comments on this site. Let’s keep it this way.

      • yeah, i dunno, fracking is nasty stuff. coming from somewhere with widespread fracking the problems are pretty obvious and often severe.

        good solution to petroleum extraction issues? sure i guess, with robust oversight. but this guy pretty clearly doesn’t want robust oversight.

        petroleum in general and plastics in particular are proving problematic for continuation of life across the board.

  12. Even my 14 year old daughter, massive Team Sky fan, Froome fan, Thomas fan etc, on looking up Ineos of her own volition, said, “I’ll not be supporting them in the future.” Ocean Rescue and #passonplastic may have been to some extent, greenwash, but I note that my new Sky broadband box was delivered with no single use plastic involved in the packaging. “Why couldn’t they have found a sponsor more in line with their morals?” was another reaction she gave. I tried to explain the imperatives of running a professional sports team, but I’m not sure that Team Ineos will be quite so popular with British fans. I also expect anti-fracking demos on cycle races in the future.

    • Which races? The peloton already included Bahrain, UAE and Astana. All have petro interests. Together with INEOS, Total will now be sponsoring Direct Energie too. Look through the rest of the world Tour, as INRNG did, and you see other chemical and plastics using companies involved. Yet its now that people’s ethical hackles have been raised? If you mean to refer to UK races well Sky only take part in two, neither overly important in the scheme of things. In the rest of the world no one will know or care who INEOS are.

    • Rather than making excuses about sports teams needing money, why not explain to her that Ratcliffe wouldn’t be successful if there wasn’t a demand for his products and it is the users who are the ones at fault. I’m glad my 14 year old is bit more worldly wise.

  13. ‘UK’s richest man moves to Monaco to ‘save £4bn in tax’
    Britain’s richest man, the Brexit supporter Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and two of his key lieutenants at chemicals firm Ineos have reportedly been planning to save up to £4bn in tax after moving to Monaco.
    Ratcliffe, who has lobbied to weaken green taxes and reduce restrictions on fracking, owns 60% of Ineos.’
    He’s an ideal fit for cycling’s ‘ethics’.

    • I am planning a major Fracking experiment in Monaco, funnily enough only 50 yards from Jim’s floating Uk Government funded floating gin palace. Never mind Jim, it’s the future.

      • did I hear that he went for a ride with G and that clinched the deal … or something?

        maybe Lizzie D could collar him on the Col D’eze one day and earbash him about the lack of a women’s team….

        • Just pointing out plenty of pro cyclists live in Monaco, presumably for tax reasons as the weather is exactly the same in Nice and San remo, just like Jim.

          • It does stick in the craw a bit, but you can see why cyclists live in Monaco to save themselves, let’s say £400,000.
            But that’s not the same as saving yourself £4,000,000,000.
            What kind of disdain for others do you have to have in order to want to keep four billion to yourself when you already have twenty billion (or whatever – it doesn’t matter, it’s more money than anyone can ever spend)?
            It’s pure ego: simply wanting to have the biggest number after your name and being willing to screw others – and the environment – to get it.
            These are the sorts of sponsors you attract when you don’t deal with your drug problems: despotic nations – Astana, Bahrain-Merida, UAE – and scumbags with no reputation to lose.

  14. “The big question is what the budget will be.”

    Dutch NOS reported a higher budget of €47mln (also commenting on how it’s too much and effects on fair play).

  15. “The big question is what the budget will be.” When the blog author has an attitude like this, can we expect anything better?
    OTOH ya gotta hand it to Dave B, he found a deep-pocketed sponsor even more reprehensible than his original one! “Just Win Baby! F–k the whales!”
    A team I hated from the start just provided even more reasons to hate them – thanks Dave!

    • I sometimes wonder about people’s moral compass. How would you feel if Coca Cola, a company that is one of the main consumers of Ineos products, produces drinks that are ruining the health of our children and vastly inflated prices to fund their marketing budgets got involved in cyclin?. They rate just ahead of the companies like Unilever and anyone who used Tetra-pak packaging, in my opinion. At least INEOS adds value and employs a huge workforce to do it.

      • Too late. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are both already involved in cycling, mainly via their Powerade and Gatorade brands.

        Sky was sponsored by PepsiCo to use Gatorade products – usually G Series custom mixes – for many years.

      • Coca Cola was a huge sponsor of pro cycling back-in-the-day with their main brand (and the Light version) all over the TdF (including the climber’s jersey) and their Sprite brand at the Giro. Didn’t much care back then as I didn’t know about a) the awful effect on health caused by these products b) their awful environmental practices, which is exactly as they wanted it.
        In 2019 I think they’d be a fine addition to Brailsford’s lineup of sponsors to hate. Even their bike brand recently gave the royal shaft to their long-time USA importer/distributor.
        All they need now is to set up a sweatshop to produce their cycling kits and perhaps club a few baby seals to become super-villains! 🙂

      • The blog author seems pretty OK with all of this, his only concern seemingly is how big the budget is going to be. Will that be the prevailing attitude? Take the cash, no matter the source? For me it’s just another example of the mess pro cycling has allowed itself to fall into – so keen for sponsorship dollars that nothing else matters. Certainly not unique, but I find F1 and MOTOGP not something to emulate when it comes to where the money comes from or the races are held.

        • That’s not what I get from the rest of the article. In any case, it is the big question – it’ll determine the playing field for the coming seasons. Any reduction from current may change things.

  16. The whole plastics argument is brought into perspective when out on the bike.

    We can do our damnedest to recycle, reduce waste and switch to renewables, but a look into the hedgerows and roadside shows endless litter and waste, mostly dumped there by the chavs and the stupids.

  17. INRNG,

    Further to our musings on Twitter this week – you mention racing under the British flag ATL. Is there anything to stop Ratcliffe moving Tour Racing Limited to another tax jurisdiction and still have a British license? I realise Katusha have moved Licenses in recent years, so I’m guessing there’s no barrier.

    • None, there’s a free choice, the team writes to the UCI to choose the nationality they want before the season starts, take your pick from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and all the countries in between that are registered with the UCI.

      Katusha aren’t very Swiss but boss Igor Makarov and his Areti business has moved to Geneva so it can be explained; meanwhile Italian pro conti teams Neri Sottoli and Bardiani might seem as Italian as you can get but their registered offices are actually in Ireland. Similarly Astana is supposed to be a national project but it’s run out of Luxembourg, UAE is run through a Swiss company, presumably both for tax and legal reasons.

      • Time to publish a story on whether team nationality is an archaic concept which should be dropped for WorldTour teams, or maybe only applied to teams with at least 50% of riders from one nation.

        I’m not even sure if team nationality choice is restricted to only nations with a cycling federation that is a member of the UCI, given that the national federation isn’t involved at all.

        UAE are sponsoring the Swiss-based business which previously ran the Lampre team, with no change in structure other than the sponsorship. Why change a good thing?

        Bora-Hansgrohe – team based in Austria, German team nationality selected for the sponsors
        CCC Team – US-based cycling team with Polish team nationality selected for the convenience of their sponsor.
        Team Sunweb, very much a Dutch team in every substantial aspect but with a German team nationality selected for sponsorship reasons.
        Trek-Segafredo, team registered office and operations both based in Belgium (was previously an office in Luxembourg and operations in Belgium) with US team nationality selected by the US-based sponsor.

      • Interesting indeed, thank you to you and to DaveRides above. I Wouldn’t personally be surprised if we see TRL move to Ireland or Monaco in the not-too-distant.

  18. Is it a national necessity that INEOS remain registered in Britain? Is that a big deal?

    I’ll just shut up stay in the corner and be jealous to the fact that Bill Gates or equivalent has not stepped forward to fund both a mens and womens “US super team”.

    • Team Sky/Ineos is not registered under British Cycling, they are a UCI WorldTour team registered directly with the UCI.

      The ‘team nationality’ literally only affects which little flag is shown next to the team name on TV graphics, and WorldTour teams get to choose it according to the marketing needs of their major sponsors.

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