• Anti-fracking protestors and Jim Corre at UK's High Court, March 2019 where they won an appeal against Ineos's injunction designed to silence protest (Getty) (Getty Images Europe)Source: Getty Images Europe
Expect to see anti-fracking protestors among the fans at next week's Tour of Yorkshire when Team Sky transmutes into Team Ineos. Watch the race LIVE 2-5 May streaming on our site or via SBS On Demand.
Cycling Central

26 Apr 2019 - 8:58 AM  UPDATED 26 Apr 2019 - 9:44 AM

Next week's Tour of Yorkshire ushers in a new epoch for the team as it bears the name of new title sponsor Ineos - a UK petrochemical company - and a new breed of protestor.

Steve Mason from Frack Free United told Cyclingnews 15,000 devil masks have been produced for the event (like those pictured above at a high court protest in March 2019) which portray the face of Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos' principal shareholder.

"To be honest, our plans are to use the race as a vehicle to raise awareness, particularly about Team Ineos," Mason said. 

"We have groups across Yorkshire ready to distribute leaflets and materials, and we want to raise awareness of what Ineos are and what impact they're going to have in Yorkshire if they're allowed to start fracking across the land."

"It's not about cycling. They've also bought the America's Cup and The Daily Mile in schools in which kids run or walk a mile a day. It's supposed to get kids fit in urban areas but then they have air pollution from fossil fuels. The irony is staggering.

"Ineos are almost rubbing our noses in it. We love the Tour de Yorkshire. It has really highlighted what a fantastic and rural area it is. We're trying to protect it from fracking companies.

"The race is not the target. The target is to raise awareness of what Ineos are."

"We don't condone any action against the race itself. We want to protect the race. Ineos are not welcome in Yorkshire. It's that simple."

Cyclingnews said it had reached out to Ineos and also the team for comment about the protest but did not receive responses before publishing, although a Team Sky spokesperson did speak generally about continuing its commitment to the environment under the team's new title sponsor. 

Anti-fracking campaigners - led by UK businessman and activist Joe Corre - scored a landmark victory over Ineos earlier this year when the UK's High Court ruled the company's 2017 injunction against public shale gas protests was unlawful.  

Watch the 2019 Tour of Yorkshire LIVE streaming here at our site or via the SBS On Demand app from 2-5 May. Details TBC.