Team Sky set to name new sponsor as Ineos, owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Chris Froome

Chris Froome has won four Tours de France for Team Sky since 2013

Team Sky are set to announce a new sponsor – owned by Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

The broadcaster said in December that it would end its decade-long commitment at the end of 2019, during which time Team Sky have won eight Grand Tours.

The team will be renamed Team Ineos – after the chemicals giant that billionaire Ratcliffe owns.

Ratcliffe is worth £21bn and has been in talks with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford for several weeks.

Team Sky was launched in January 2010 and has since amassed 327 victories, including those eight Grand Tour triumphs.

Current riders Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have won five Tours de France between them, and Welshman Thomas signed a new three-year deal in September after winning his first Tour last July.

Ineos is Britain’s largest privately owned company and in 2018 posted annual pre-tax profits of £2bn.

Ratcliffe has already invested £110m in Ben Ainslie’s Americas Cup team.

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Former Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France, said the partnership between Brailsford and Ratcliffe could be “ideal”.

Talking on Eurosport’s The Bradley Wiggins Show, he said: “I think he would have been reluctant to have another multinational company that came in and wanted the control in terms of ‘this is how we advertise our company’.

“Ratcliffe is the richest man in Britain and you would imagine that the kind of money they have asked for is nothing to him.

“Dave can continue running this team with all his plans and philosophies, so it’s an ideal situation for him and you’d imagine he is answerable to one man.”

Team Sky have dominated the Tour de France in recent years, winning six of the past seven editions, while Froome also won the 2017 Vuelta a Espana and the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

However, the efficient style and big spending that underpinned Sky’s success has been unpopular with some fans, particularly in France.

The team has also been subject to allegations of cheating.

Froome, 33, had an anti-doping case brought against him and subsequently dropped by governing body the UCI, while former rider Bradley Wiggins has faced questions over his use of a medical exemption for hayfever medication.

The UK Anti-Doping Agency also conducted a 14-month investigation into a ‘mystery package’ delivered to then-team doctor Richard Freeman on the final day of Wiggins’ successful Criterium du Dauphine bid in 2011.

Team Sky, Froome and Wiggins deny any wrongdoing in all three cases.