Whether they find new sponsorship at the end of 2019 or dissolve completely, I think we’ll find that the era of Sky-dominance has drawn to a close.
While I was surprised to hear that Sky will stop sponsoring its cycling team at the end of 2019, I can’t say I’m very disappointed about the news. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of the typical Sky-haters that seem to continually bad-mouth the team no matter what they do. I think that the team has done a superb job of demonstrating the value of combining a rigorous adherence to process with constant refinement based on evidence about what does and does not improve performance. Given my line of work, I’m bound to appreciate that approach. But—the fact of the matter is—after so many years of Sky’s formulaic dominance over professional cycling—things have gotten…well…boring.
It’s not Team Sky’s fault. They were fortunate to have sponsorship that was willing to pour a massive amount of cash into the sport, and they used that resource to great effect. Perhaps if there had been at least a couple of other teams with that same level of funding, it would have turned into something very exciting to watch. Unfortunately, when they are the only ones who can throw that much money around, it’s difficult for anyone else to get into the game. It’s gotten to the point where we just know: if Team Sky really wants to throw everything at winning a particular race, they will.
With the departure of their title sponsor, it’s certainly possible that the team will continue on past 2019, but I find it highly unlikely that they will find the same deep pockets available to them. Given the number of riders on the squad who could each compete for grand-tour leadership, the chances that a new sponsor will have the budget to keep them all together is highly unlikely, and I am sure that other teams have already started contacting the Sky riders like sharks circling a wounded whale. Whether they find new sponsorship at the end of 2019 or dissolve completely, I think we’ll find that the era of Sky-dominance has drawn to a close.
Which means that in 2020, for the first time in many, many years, we might see some truly epic battles for the grand tour jerseys. Personally, I can’t wait.