ROTHERHAM cycle racer Ben Swift could soon be riding in the livery of chemical firm Ineos — the company which is planning to drill for shale on two sites in his home town.
It was confirmed last Tuesday that international cycling outfit Team Sky will become Team Ineos at the Tour de Yorkshire in May.
The irony is Swift and his teammates will find themselves riding through the countryside their new sponsors are planning to explore and exploit for shale gas.
Ineos has already secured planning approval for exploratory drilling at Harthill and hope permission is in the pipeline for a site in Woodsetts.
One stage of the Tour de Yorkshire route snakes through North Yorkshire, where up to 4,000 fracking wells could be sunk.
The new sponsorship deal was condemned by environmental campaigners.
Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth said: “Cycling is one of the UK’s most successful and popular sports, but do the likes of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome really want to be associated with a planet-wrecking company like Ineos?”
Ineos is part-owned by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who said: “Cycling is a great endurance and tactical sport that is gaining ever more popularity around the world.
“Equally, cycling continues to mushroom for the general public as it is seen to be good for fitness and health, together with easing congestion and pollution in city environments.
“Ineos is delighted to take on the responsibility of running such a professional team.”
Ineos will officially take over on May 1 as owner of Team Sky’s holding company Tour Racing Limited, and said it would honour the contracts of staff and riders like Swift.