Geraint Thomas said he has no regrets in signing a new deal with Team Sky in September, despite being in “shock” when he learned Sky had pulled the plug on its sponsorship deal.
This year’s Tour de France winner, who considered becoming team leader of the Polish team CCC before agreeing an improved £3.5m a year deal with Team Sky, is also confident Sir Dave Brailsford will find a sponsor to keep the team together in 2020, because they are one of the most successful in any sport.
“I don’t regret [not] joining another team,” Thomas said. “I have got every confidence in the team in getting something else to keep it together. When you look at other teams, title sponsors change but the core stays the same, so there is no reason why that can’t happen.”
“And when you look at it, Team Sky is one of the best sports teams around – not just in cycling – so it has got to be appealing to a lot of companies and brands.”
Thomas also rejected suggestions that negative stories concerning Team Sky – including a damning report by the digital, culture, media and sport select committee in March which looked into a Jiffy bag delivered to Wiggins in 2011 – had tarnished the brand and instead stressed Brailsford’s record of innovation.
“Not to me,” he said. “Maybe to some other people, I don’t know. We have pushed things forward in cycling and the whole sport really. We first wore skinsuits and helmets with no vents and everyone was laughing and thinking: ‘What are you guys doing?’ Two years later everyone was doing it. And warming down after stages – it was never done and that was laughed at when we started. And there are loads of other little things that have kept moving the sport forward.”
There are suggestions Team Sky riders will soon be sounded out by other teams about their availability for 2020 but Thomas said his focus was only on the new season. “I committed to this team a couple of months ago and it is an amazing environment for me,” he said. “I certainly see them more than my family. It is a good environment.
“We’d love to stick together but I think individually we are just going to keep focusing on what we do. There is no point in me or Chris Froome or anyone worrying about sponsors. We have got to do our thing, keep riding six hours a day and just try to have the best season we can.”
Thomas admitted he was surprised when he heard Sky was pulling out: “It was a shock to be honest. It wasn’t nice to hear. But when you look at it, 10 years as a main sponsor is a decent stint when you look at cycling’s history.
“It would be super-disappointing if this team was to stop but there is nothing we can do about it. I am super-motivated, I have had a big off-season and I am motivated to get on my bike and train and have another great year in 2019. That’s all we are really thinking about right now.”