A new sponsor for Sky?

Team Sky could unveil its new main sponsor ahead of this May’s Giro d’Italia.

SPORTS director Matteo Tosatto told Spanish press that Team Sky will apparently have an agreement in place with a new main sponsor ahead of May’s Giro d’Italia.

Talking to marca.com, the Italian—who has been a sports director at Sky since 2017, having retired as a pro rider with Saxo Bank the previous year—said that he thought that an announcement might have been made ahead of the Tour de France, but it could now come sooner.

Speaking at the UAE Tour, Tosatto told Marca that Team Sky’s management team has worked hard to allay any fears the riders may have had about their futures.

“Before the Giro, we should have an agreement [with a new sponsor] that will ensure the safety of the team,” he said. “It was only going to be finalized ahead of the Tour, but we are likely to announce it before the Corsa Rosa.

“It will be European, from home—de casa,” Tosatto added, suggesting—and subsequently confirming—that the possible scenario of Colombian backing was not going to happen, but perhaps suggesting that the new backer could be Italian.

In early February, it was thought that a consortium of Colombian sponsors, led by state-controlled oil and gas company Ecopetro, could be in the running to back the WorldTour team in place of Sky, with the current main sponsor stepping away at the end of the 2019 season.

However, while attending the Tour Colombia 2.1, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford moved a few days later to say that such a scenario was “very unlikely,” despite his enthusiasm for the country and its love of cycling—and despite a meeting with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque Marquez and the sports ministry.

“Colombian cycling has enormous potential—everybody knows that—but what we talked about with the government was a private matter,” Brailsford said at the time. “However, I have no doubt that Colombian cycling will continue to grow. Colombia has a real possibility to become one of the world’s leading cycling nations.”

It was a sentiment echoed this week in Dubai by Tosatto, who confirmed that the possibility of a Colombian sponsor taking over was now no longer the case.

“It’s true that it was a possible avenue, but it hasn’t happened,” the 44-year-old said. “Although the country has some great riders and a lot of passion for cycling, we weren’t able to come to an agreement.”

Team Sky, meanwhile, has partnered with Garmin for 2019. Brailsford said the team is always looking for new ways to improve training and in-race experience.

The GPS technology company offers a range of different on-bike computer devices providing data fields such as watts, speed, cadence, navigation and an array of other features. The company also manufactures power meters and other electronic cycling accessories.

The news comes soon after the team announced a separate partnership with Swiss Side as the “aerodynamics and performance strategy partners,” again just for the 2019 season, as the team continue their search for a headline sponsor for 2020 onwards.

“Technology is key to successful performance, and at Team Sky we are always looking for new ways to improve our training and in race experience with the best products,” Brailsford said.

“Our coaches and riders know that in Garmin we have a best-in-class partner for our many different needs. We trust their products. They are reliable, intuitive and state-of the-art. But importantly, we look for partners that will innovate to develop new tools and methods for the future,” Brailsford added. “We think the potential is huge and that this exciting partnership opens up a new world of possibility for us to explore together.”

The press release adds that the team will be provided with the Garmin Edge range of GPS computers and the Garmin Varia RTL510 rearview radar for use during training, and the team will also be involved with various new test products throughout the season.

“Team Sky is known for being an ambitious and successful team full of talented riders, and we are excited to welcome them to our network of sponsored professional cycling teams,” Garmin Vice President of Global Consumer Marketing Susan Lyman said.

“As a world leader in cycling technology, we are pleased to supply Team Sky with top-of-the-line products for use in some of the most demanding races in the world, and we look forward to working closely with them in the development and testing of future cycling products,” Lyman added.