Sir Bradley Wiggins can’t envisage Team Sky finding a replacement sponsor of similar stature and says he believes the sport as a whole will suffer as a consequence.
Sky last week announced that it would cease to sponsor the team that bears its name at the end of the 2019 season, so ending its nine-year involvement with professional cycling.
Speaking on TalkSPORT, Wiggins said of his former team: “People need to be careful what they wish for because if Sky go now the sport will be worse off for it, and it’s whether [cycling] will ever get back to those heights.
“The sport may just – well it won’t disintegrate – but it maybe won’t have the profile it has enjoyed now.”
As well as providing a weighty budget of around £30m a year, Sky’s sponsorship has also been unusually long by the standards of professional road cycling.
Alluding to this, Wiggins said: “This day was always going to happen because the sport is so backward in some ways – the people that run it. It’s not corrupt but it’s so backward. There’s no money in the sport, really.
“I mean Sky brought money but I’m talking about sponsors of the sport in general aside from Sky. Rather than be grateful for a company like Sky coming into cycling, people just hammer it.”
The 2012 Tour de France winner also said that he didn’t believe Sir Dave Brailsford is likely to find a like-for-like replacement.
“I can’t ever envisage them getting a sponsor like Sky. You know, a UK company – or whatever they’re owned these days, but based obviously in London – the size of the company, coming in and doing that for cycling.
“To replace them, in order to carry on and cover the wage bill and the budget for the next years is going to be quite a tough thing to do and a tough thing to find.”
He added: “It’s the end of an era in some ways. That’s not to say the team can’t carry on but it’s whether they can find a sponsor with that much money and that much weight to cover the wage bill so they can keep everyone there.”
“If Sky does go, I think the sport will be worse off for it.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) December 20, 2018