LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - Chemicals giant Ineos, owned by Britain's richest man Jim Ratcliffe, is set to become the new sponsor of cycling's Tour de France-winning Team Sky, according to media reports on Monday.
Broadcaster Sky announced last December that it would end its involvement in the British-based team and professional cycling after the 2019 season.
The hugely successful team, founded in 2010 with the ambitious goal of securing a first Tour de France victory by a British cyclist within five years, have won eight Grand Tours since 2012.
Bradley Wiggins, four times winner Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have all triumphed on the Tour de France with Sky. Froome also won the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia.
The BBC said the team would be renamed Team Ineos.
Ratcliffe, chief executive of the country's largest private company, topped last year's Sunday Times rich list with a net worth of 21 billion pounds ($27.81 billion).
Wiggins said the deal, if confirmed, could be an ideal partnership and bring peace of mind to the cast of top riders.
"There are a lot of big names in that team who would potentially have had to look for new sponsors and there's limited places now with the amount of teams that have folded," Wiggins said on his Eurosport show.
"I'm sure if that's true and it all comes off, it's signed and the money's in the bank then I think that'll be a big weight off the like of Geraint, Froome's shoulders before they go into the Grand Tours really."
Wiggins said team principal Dave Brailsford would want to retain control.
"It's an ideal situation for Dave because he can continue running out this team with all his plans and philosophies and he's answerable, you'd imagine, to one man."
$1 = 0.7550 pounds Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris