Sir Bradley Wiggins says that the rumoured taking over of Team Sky sponsorship by chemical giant Ineos would be “an ideal situation” for the British UCI WorldTour outfit and its principal, Sir Dave Brailsford.
Speaking on the first episode of the new season of his Eurosport podcast The Bradley Wiggins Show, the five-time Olympic champion and 2012 Tour de France winner believes the team’s rumoured budget would allow Brailsford to continue his project seamlessly.
Ineos is controlled by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who with a fortune of £21 billion is Britain’s richest man, and weekend press reports suggested that a future Team Ineos could enjoy an even bigger budget than the sport’s richest team already enjoys.
Wiggins said: “Dave will want to retain control, and it is Dave's way in terms of the way he manages the team, the way he sets the team up.
“I think he would have been reluctant to have another multinational company that came in that wanted it for the advertisement and to get their name out there, but would want the control in terms of, ‘this is how we want to do it in terms of how we advertise our company’.
“I think that would have been a big point for Dave,” Wiggins continued, “so in some ways it's an ideal situation. He 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 out this team with all his plans and philosophies, so it's an ideal situation for him and he is answerable you’d imagine to one man – it's his money. It will certainly help that team.”
Wiggins acknowledged that his prediction might not go down too well with some followers of the sport on social media who believe that Team Sky’s financial clout gives them an unfair advantage over other teams, especially in the Tour de France which is its main focus each season, with victories in six of the past seven editions.
He said: “I can hear Twitter going mad now, my ears are burning. 'What did he just say? Dave's going to carry on in the same way as he always did?'”
The 38-year-old also said that the Ineos deal, should it be confirmed soon, would also end any potential unsettlement in the squad with riders looking to secure their plans for 2020 and beyond, and they could now focus on the racing.
“It's only March,” Wiggins explained. “You've got someone like Geraint Thomas who won the Tour last year. Obviously he was in high demand to go to another team. He's decided to stay with Sky, sign a new contract and as he signs, Sky announce they are pulling out.
“It would have been a worry for Geraint and those guys. But I'm sure behind the scenes, Dave and that would have been reassuring them, 'it's alright, we've got something in the bag'. It's March now and they can concentrate on the rest of the season and what they are paid to do,” he added.
There will be 20 episodes of The Bradley Wiggins Show on Eurosport this season, with the title star joined by new presenter Graham Willgoss and guests, with former British road champion Adam Blythe appearing in this week’s opener.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.