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Geraint Thomas insists money can't buy success in cycling

Tour de France champion reflects on Ineos buying Team Sky - and expects things to stay much as they are

Geraint Thomas insists that money doesn’t buy success in cycling, despite the takeover of Team Sky by petrochemicals giant Ineos that is expected to see the richest team in cycling enjoy even more financial clout.

Writing in his monthly column in GQ magazine, the 32-year-old said that the change in ownership “won’t make much difference to how things run day-to-day,” and attributed Team Sky’s dominance of the Tour de France, to making the race the focus of its season.

The Welshman’s victory in last season’s race was the sixth for Team Sky in seven years, following Sir Bradley Wiggins’ win in 2012 and Chris Froome’s four triumphs from 2013-17, only Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 breaking its grip on the yellow jersey.

The change in ownership takes effect from 1 May, with Team Ineos making its debut at the Tour de Yorkshire, where protests are expected against the new sponsor from anti-fracking campaigners.

“From my point of view, everything just stays the same despite the change in sponsor,” Thomas wrote.

“Ineos takes over Tour Racing, the company that owns the team, so they also take over all the current contracts. Nothing really changes; it’s the same staff and riders, and the mindset of the team is the same. The thing that we’re most happy about is that we all get to stay together.”

Pointing out that the team’s senior management is largely unchanged and that he is “good friends” with many of the riders, Thomas said, “we’re like a family.”

He continued: “The fact that Ineos came on is brilliant and the fact that they’re British is an extra bonus. The whole mentality of the team will stay the same.

“Of course, Ineos will have their own ethos and targets to measure success, but Dave [Brailsford] still controls everything. The philosophy of the team will remain as it was.”

Thomas rejected the notion that financial clout explained his team’s success, saying: “In cycling, you can’t buy success, which is how Team Sky’s sponsorship is portrayed a lot of the time.

“Of course money helps sign good riders, but it all depends on how you run the team and what you do with it.

“The main reason we are successful, I think, is the fact that we focus on the Tour De France: it’s the main goal of the year and therefore we’re in the public eye because it’s so high‐profile.”

“Our sole aim there is winning that yellow jersey,” he said. “There’s no egos in the team – it’s all about that common goal.”

Thomas maintained that “there are two or three other teams on similar budgets to ours that are nowhere near as successful,” and while he acknowledged “you’ve got a better chance at the big races if you’ve got a bit of money,” it was spending its budget carefully helped explain Team Sky’s success.”

Looking ahead, Thomas expects that the team can help learn lessons the Americas Cup challenge being led by Sir Ben Ainslie, which is also sponsored by Ineos.

“In the past we’ve talked to the Mercedes Formula One team – they were giving us insight into aerodynamics. You can learn from other sports,” he said.

“You have to think outside the box and look for opportunities to collaborate; after all, you can give anyone a big pot of cash but if they don’t spend it the right way then it’s pointless. There are other ways to go forward that are just as beneficial.”

“Even the way they run their team, and the way they challenge themselves to achieve different things, can probably teach us things when it comes to cycling.

“There might not be much we can learn from their physical training, but the way they prepare mentally could really be interesting,” he added.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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