Sky to end backing for cycling after 11 years

Entertainment giant switches focus to cricket.

Sky Loves Cycling: a 2016 campaign celebrating its involvement
Sky Loves Cycling: a 2016 campaign celebrating its involvement

Sky has revealed it is to "move on" from its long-standing support of cycling by ending its ownership and sponsorship of road-racing’s Team Sky after the 2019 season.

The broadcaster said it would be continuing its Bigger Picture initiative, which focuses on the positive impact Sky can have in local communities and the wider world, and which its cycling sponsorship fitted into.

Another Bigger Picture initaitive, Sky Ocean Rescue, a campaign to eliminate single-use plastic, will continue, while Sky said it would make its nascent backing for cricket a "central part" of Bigger Picture activity in the coming years.

Sky struck a long-term partnership last year with the England and Wales Cricket Board that includes a commitment to grow participation among children and at the grass roots level.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive, said: "After more than a decade of involvement, I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved with Team Sky and our long-standing partners [until 2016] at British Cycling. But the end of 2019 is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky’s story and turn our focus to different initiatives including our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign."

Team Sky, created in 2010, delivered on its goal of securing a first-ever Tour de France win for a British cyclist when Bradley Wiggins trimphed in 2012. It has followed that with four wins for Chris Froome and one for Geraint Thomas.

However, it has been dogged by controversy within the sport, including allegations of doping, which it has denied.

Team Sky will race in 2019 and is hoping to continue after that if it can secure a new backer by early 2020.

Darroch paid tribute to Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford, who in turn said that the team's success "would not have been possible without Sky".