Sky’s decision to end its ownership and sponsorship of cycle road-racing’s Team Sky after the 2019 season opens a major new opportunity for a brand with deep pockets.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive, expressed his pride in what has been achieved over the past decade – including Team Sky supplying six of the last seven winners of the Tour de France – but said “the end of 2019 is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky’s story and turn our focus to different initiatives including our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign”.

The timing may also be linked to the recent £30bn takeover of Sky by Comcast, which is more interested in the British media company’s technology and 27 million subscribers than its narrow sporting success.

While Team Sky has not always been popular in the sport, its departure will leave a big hole, which could prove an attractive option for an adventurous brand.

“One good thing that they’ve done is that they’ve created a template to follow,” according to Richard Gillis, a managing partner at the Havas Agency in London.

“They showed how you sponsor a major cycling team – that’s a playbook a new sponsor could just come in and copy,” he told Cyclingnews.

But he cautioned that any brand thinking about taking on the team would have to consider multiple factors. “For someone coming in they’ll see that there are a lot of moving parts to this and managing that is completely different to putting a logo on a football shirt for three years.”

And then there’s the cost – a reported £35m a year to keep Team Sky on the road. “It’s a brilliant piece of work and a real plus,” said Gillis, “but for the price they’re asking, the sponsorship has to break out of the cycling world. The message has to reach more than just cycling fans.”

Sourced from The Drum, BBC, Cyclingnews; additional content by WARC staff