Anti-fracking groups "ignorant" of the facts, says boss of cycling team's new sponsor

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

Sir Dave Brailsford defended the new owners of his cycling team as Team Sky formally became Team Ineos on Wednesday.

The new-look team will make their debut at this week's Tour de Yorkshire, where environmental protesters are expected to line the route to voice their anger at Ineos' record on fracking and plastics.

Sir Dave Brailsford during a press conference to launch Team Ineos Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

For the last year, Sky riders wore slogans on their jerseys, advertising its 'Pass on Plastic' and 'Ocean Rescue' campaigns. But Brailsford insisted he was "very comfortable with the situation we're in".

"I'm not an expert in chemicals, I'm an expert in trying to make Chris ride his bike faster.

"But when I did come to educate myself I realised there's a very simplistic view and when you dive down into it and take the effort you can find out there's a very different view.

Brailsford said that where Sky had promoted recycling campaigns, "if anybody can do anything about it, it's these guys".

Ratcliffe defended his company's operations, saying Ineos have pioneered new methods of recycling plastic.

On fracking, he said the majority of environmental groups he has met with are "ignorant" of the facts, and said it was a cheap source of energy.

"I think it's outrageous the government have listened to a noisy, minuscule minority instead of looking at the science," he said.

Team Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Questions about fracking and plastics dominated the Team Ineos launch press conference, which was held far from the public gaze at a remote pub in North Yorkshire.

As Britain's richest man, Ratcliffe has the deep pockets required to ensure the team remains the best funded in the sport – a budget which has helped them win six out of the last seven Tours de France.

"We've spent 30 years working on the Ineos project and made it very large and very profitable," Ratcliffe said.

"We make $5-7 billion a year in profit so there's no harm in investing a modest amount of that into very worthy sporting endeavours which we enjoy.

"If they inspire people towards a healthier lifestyle, that's a good thing but there's also nothing wrong in investing money in something simply enjoyable.

"I like the theatre, I like opera, but I prefer sport."

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chris Froome, and Sir Dave Brailsford after the press conference in Linton, Yorkshire Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire