pro cycling

A lose-lose situation for Team Sky

All the envelopes have been pushed and all the gains have been marginalised. It’s the end of an era.

Froome sky

Sky, the corporation, have announced that their backing of Sky, the pro cycling team, will end after the 2019 season. All the envelopes have been pushed and all the gains have been marginalised.

It’s the end of an era.

Knowing Dave Brailsford and his pals they will undoubtedly (publicly at least) turn this into a positive. It will be framed as a challenge and an opportunity, and a chance to recalibrate goals.

The word ‘journey’ will probably be used.

In this spirit, I’ve been putting some thought into how Team Sky might best use this upheaval to their advantage.

They’ve won lots of bike races, Knighthoods and sundry honours have been handed out, and only one achievement remains unconquered: popularity.

Team sponsorship

Sky plc are a beast. A behemoth. They reek of founder Rupert Murdoch and his media control, political meddling, phone hacking allegations, and all-round uber-capitalist Bond-villain persona.

They are not the sponsor of a cycling team you can easily love.

Team Sky need a softer approach. They need to pair up with a lovely cuddly company who make their money in green energy, or artificial panda insemination, or something.

Or, perhaps, they stick with the media giant thing but tone it down a bit. I’m pretty sure the British public would have no problem if the BBC whacked a few quid on the license fee to cover Froome’s wages.

They could install David Attenborough as a kind of ethical figurehead, to regain the trust of fans. The fact is, if Attenborough told you the jiffy bag contained nothing more than a fruitcake baked by Wiggo’s mum to dish amongst the team then we’d all believe him without question.

And, for clarity, I have no evidence that Sir David (Attenborough that is, not Brailsford) has ever inseminated a panda.

I’m unable, at this time, to speak for Dave B.

Embed from Getty Images

Losing behaviour

Much has been made over the years about the team’s commitment to “winning behaviour”; they famously, in Fran Miller, have a “Head of Winning Behaviours.” In any new era this will have to stop – no-one likes a serial winner.

Back in the 1970’s the mighty Eddy Merckx got punched from his bike by a roadside fan, so sick were the French public of watching the same guy dominate. US Postal, the team of Lance Armstrong, were disliked more with every Tour win.

By all accounts Lance was a lovely chap* who just won too much.**

People don’t like it.

Consider this: Do you know anyone who dislikes Team Dimension Data?


Because they finished stone cold bottom of the World Tour rankings for 2018, and resolutely refused to win bike races unless they were left with absolutely no alternative.

Fran Miller either needs retraining, or replacing with an experienced and results driven candidate for the role of “Head Loser”. When it comes to popularity, never underestimate the power of pity.

*He wasn’t

**He cheated

Embed from Getty Images

Homespun PR

To really drive home this new cuddly, ethical message, Team Sky need to up (or should that be down?) their PR game.

They need to end the combative corporate-speak in favour of a more homespun approach. Dave Brailsford will have to go, to be replaced by the BBC double-act of Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan.

This, in turn, could lead to all manner of spin-off benefits.

Are you telling me you wouldn’t happily sit down to a midweek BBC Two show entitled Froome-watch, where hidden cameras breathlessly capture the waggly-elbowed one in his natural habitat, tending his nest and feeding live insects to his kids?

It’s a win-win.

Although, of course, in the spirit of the new project, they’ll have to spin it as a lose-lose.

(Froome Image: Jaguar MENA [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)

15 comments on “A lose-lose situation for Team Sky

  1. You never fail me. 😂. 👍🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anthony Morgan

    I am automatically in favour of anything that involves Sir David Attenborough. He’s worth the license fee all by himself. In fact, this ties in quite nicely with Dynasties – Sir David (A) follows the story of the Sky pack/ pride/ troop, led by Sir David (B), as it goes through its most difficult challenge to date and struggles to secure its legacy into the next generation.
    I’m not sure that Dave B has as much charisma as Dave C (the chimpanzee from episode 1), but I’m certain that Dave A could make it work.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wait… they need a cuddly green energy company? Like Dominic Greene of Greene Planet? An actual, real Bond Villain?! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is funny how everyone hates on Team Sky for winning. Arguably Team Quick Step had a much better season overall. They were unstoppable in nearly all the Spring Classics and just about every non Grand Tour event. Yet no such hatred as that lavished upon Team Sky. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a good point. I tend to think that a team winning one day races appears dynamic and swashbuckling while a GT focussed team like Sky look like control freaks – it’s as much about the ‘vibe’ given off by a team as anything else.


  5. I need to move to Britain so I can get to know Sir David Attenborough and try to understand Brexit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Team Ineos and the price of fun – road|THEORY

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