BSkyB has announced the creation of a professional British road cycling team, Team Sky, to be managed by Great Britain Olympic performance director Dave Brailsford CBE.
Team Sky will aim to create the first British winner of the Tour de France, within five years.
The sponsorship will also seek to "inspire people of all ages and abilities to get on their bikes, through the team’s positive profile, attitude and success."
Jeremy Darroch, CEO of Sky, said: “Sky has a core belief in the power of sport – we want to get people involved. We are hugely impressed by Dave Brailsford, inspired by the success of British riders and excited about embarking upon this ambitious project together.
“Sky is already the principal partner for British Cycling, supports the Youth Sport Trust through Sky Sports Living for Sport and invests heavily in British sport. Team Sky builds on this and will inspire people of all ages and abilities to get out and ride, for fun, for fitness and for the environment.”
Dave Brailsford said: “This has been a dream for some time and now Sky is making it happen. It wouldn’t work without them.
“Team Sky will bring to a professional road team the performance principles that have worked so well with the current GB teams; commitment, meticulous planning, the aggregation of marginal gains and a rider-centred philosophy. We want to make heroes, persuade a generation to pull on Team Sky colours and inspire people to ride. This will be an epic story; building a British team to take on the best in professional cycling, and win.”
Team Sky will have a core of British riders, coaches and support staff and its HQ will be in Manchester, home to the GB cycling team. It will compete from the start of 2010, throughout the calendar, with the objective of gaining an invitation to the Tour de France. The race schedule will include the Tour of Britain. Brailsford has said not all team riders need be British.
An initial squad of around 25 riders will be recruited during the 2009 calendar year. They will be supported by a team of coaches, technicians and support staff from across the cycling world, many of whom work throughout the year with British elite and developing riders. Team Sky will now start to recruit key personnel and approach commercial partners to support the new team.
Dave Brailsford, who led Britain’s Olympic team to 14 medals including eight golds at the Beijing Games, will continue to lead British success as Performance Director of British Cycling.
“Team Sky will only enhance British prospects, with riders, and especially up-and-coming talent, benefiting from a pro team set-up that gives them the best training and support in an environment that will help them to develop," said Brailsford.
"The team is a natural evolution for the Olympic programme as the quantity and calibre of British riders continues to grow.”
Sky is working with British Cycling to develop a range of soon-to-be-announced events, to make cycling fun, easy and accessible to all.