(Reuters) – Broadcaster Sky’s move to end their involvement in professional cycling after the 2019 season has given Team Sky enough time to line up a new sponsor, according to retired double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.
The future of the team, which has won eight Grand Tours since 2012, was cast into doubt after Sky announced on Wednesday they were turning their focus to other initiatives but Contador said the early notice was a silver lining.
“The good news is that they’ll know about the likelihood of a new sponsor with some advance warning. It’s not like they’ve been told in August that the squad was going to end at the end of the year,” the Spaniard told the Cycling News http://www.cyclingnews.com website.
Contador said he was not surprised by Sky’s decision due to their longevity and success with the British-based outfit and added that their riders would have no trouble finding new teams if another backer did not emerge.
“The riders at Sky are all high quality, and lots of teams will be interested in them,” added the 36-year-old, a longtime rival of Sky team leader Chris Froome before the Spaniard retired last year.
“So, logically, if the season gets underway and there’s no sign of a new sponsor, the phone calls to the riders will start.”
Team Sky’s 2017 budget was worth 31.1 million pounds raising questions about whether a potential new backer can match that level of investment.
“If Sky have such a big budget, it’s because they’ve had some results that are virtually impossible to improve upon, and that’s a guarantee to any big backer,” Contador said.
“Of course, you think that’s a heck of a lot of money, but Sky have those results that really back them up.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)