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Move follows takeover by Comcast; team says it will continue if another backer can be found

Broadcaster Sky is to cease sponsorship of Team Sky at the end of next season as it ends its involvement with professional cycling.

The company has backed the team – the richest in the sport, with an annual budget of around £30 million – since 2010.

Sky chairman James Murdoch, himself a keen cyclist, was key in the sponsorship deal being put together and its subsequent renewals, but he left the business in October after its £30 billion takeover by US firm Comcast.

In a statement on the team website, Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “We came into cycling with the aim of using elite success to inspire greater participation at all levels.

"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 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."

The team was set up by Sir Dave Brailsford with the aim of winning the Tour de France within five years with a British rider, an objective met with raised eyebrows from many.

A decade on, and the team has come to dominate the race. In 2012, Sir Bradley Wiggins won the yellow jersey, and since then Team Sky has won five of the past six editions, with Chris Froome clinching four editions and Geraint Thomas winning this year.

The past two years have seen Team Sky embroiled in controversy due to the issue of Therapeutic Use Exemptions to Wiggins and the ‘Jiffy Bag’ affair, with a parliamentary committee highly critical of the team.

However, a UK Anti-doping probe was shelved after it was unable to prove any wrongdoing.

IThe UCI WorldTour outfit said it would carry on racing beyond 2019 if it managed to secure a new backer.

Brailsford said: “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. For now, I would like to thank all Team Sky riders and staff, past and present - and above all the fans who have supported us on this adventure.
 
“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.”

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.