(Reuters) – The future of Team Sky has been cast into doubt after its owner and sponsor, broadcaster Sky, confirmed it will end involvement in professional cycling after the 2019 season, the British-based outfit said on Wednesday.
The decision means the successful team, which has won eight Grand Tours since 2012, will need to begin the search for a another sponsor to provide funding from the beginning of 2020 and continue to compete under a new name.
“While Sky will be moving on at the end of next year, the team is open minded about the future and the potential of working with a new partner, should the right opportunity present itself,” Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said in a statement.
“We aren’t finished yet by any means. There is another exciting year of racing ahead of us and we will be doing everything we can to deliver more Team Sky success in 2019.”
21st Century Fox, which owns a minority stake in Team Sky, has also confirmed that 2019 will be the last year of their involvement in cycling.
Team Sky was founded in 2010 with the ambitious goal of securing a Tour de France victory by a British cyclist for the first time within five years, a feat they achieved just two years later when Bradley Wiggins triumphed in Paris.
Chris Froome then claimed the first of four Tour de France wins a year later and became the first cyclist in more than 30 years to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time when he added the 2017 Vuelta a Espana and 2018 Giro d’Italia to his list of honours.
Earlier this year, Froome’s team mate Geraint Thomas became the third Briton to win the Tour de France for Sky, who have amassed 322 overall victories since their formation.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)