Team Ineos still the best-funded cycling outfit

LONDON • The rebranded Team Ineos will continue to be the world's best-funded professional cycling outfit with an annual budget of about £35 million (S$62.6 million), following the announcement of Team Sky's sale to the chemical giants on Monday evening.

Ineos is Britain's largest privately owned company, and its chairman and chief executive officer Jim Ratcliffe is Britain's richest man, with an estimated wealth of more than £20 billion.

Securing such comprehensive backing represents a coup for team principal Dave Brailsford, who will remain in his position, especially after the controversies that have dogged his set-up for the past couple of years.

He said: "Today's announcement is great news for the team, for cycling fans, and for the sport more widely. It ends the uncertainty around the team and the speed with which it has happened represents a huge vote of confidence in our future. It heralds the start of a hugely exciting new chapter for us all as Team Ineos."

Although Sky had said in December that it would end its sponsorship at the end of this season, Ineos has opted to launch the rebranded team at the start of the Tour de Yorkshire on May 2, rather than wait until the end of the year.

This would mean that Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas will defend his title in his new team's colours in July as Ineos "will continue to fund the current team in full, honouring all existing commitments to riders, staff and partners".

The 32-year-old Welshman took to social media to express his delight at the takeover, tweeting: "Super happy the team can continue and stay together."

Ratcliffe is also interested in buying English Premier League football club Chelsea, but his valuation and that of Russian owner Roman Abramovich, whose asking price is a reported £2.5 billion, remain far apart.

However, the 66-year-old has a record of putting his wealth into sport.

Last year, he invested £110 million in Ben Ainslie's Ineos Team UK, renaming the sailing team after his company to compete for the America's Cup in New Zealand in 2021.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Team Ineos still the best-funded cycling outfit'. Print Edition | Subscribe