Team Sky will stay on the road under a new guise after securing the backing of Britain's richest man Jim Ratcliffe.

The team will change their name to become known as Team INEOS mid-season, racing under the new branding for the first time at the Tour de Yorkshire in May.

The British-registered team had been seeking new funding after Sky announced in December it would end its ownership and sponsorship at the end of 2019.

Sky and 21st Century Fox will now end their involvement on May 1 with INEOS becoming the sole owners of the team's holding company Tour Racing Limited.

The Tour de Yorkshire begins in Doncaster the following day.

Team principal Dave Brailsford said: "Today's announcement is great news for the team, for cycling fans, and for the sport more widely. It ends the uncertainty around the team and the speed with which it has happened represents a huge vote of confidence in our future.

"In Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS, I know that we have found the right partner whose vision, passion and pioneering spirit can lead us to even greater success on and off the bike. It heralds the start of a hugely exciting new chapter for us all as Team INEOS."

Ratcliffe is the founder and chairman of the Ineos chemicals company and has an estimted £21billion fortune.

The Brexit supporter recently hit the headlines for plans to move to Monaco and avoid tax and has also been linked with a potential takeover bid for Chelsea FC.

News of the deal ensures Brailsford can keep together a team that has won six of the past seven editions of the Tour de France, and established itself as one of the most successful teams in the sport since forming in 2010.

Sky's withdrawal had come as a shock to Brailsford when it was announced last year, with the team having just handed lengthy contract extensions to Tour winner Geraint Thomas and rising prospect Egan Bernal.

Ratcliffe has previously invested significant sums in sailing, partnering with Ben Ainslie to form Ineos Team UK, but is also known as a keen amateur cyclist who can now take his interest in the sport to a different level.

"Cycling is a great endurance and tactical sport that is gaining ever more popularity around the world," Ratcliffe said in a statement.

"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."

Team Sky's massive budgets have helped them dominate cycling's biggest races over recent years.

Some of their rivals may have been hoping the media company's withdrawal would lead to a levelling of the playing field, but Ratcliffe's deep pockets will ensure Brailsford can continue to spend at current levels.

A team statement said INEOS "will continue to fund the current team in full, honouring all existing commitments to riders, staff and partners".

The team's reputation has been tarnished in recent years after becoming embroiled in a series of controversies.

A mystery 'jiffy bag' delivered to 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine was never properly explained - a 14-month U.K. Anti-Doping investigation eventually hitting a dead end due to a lack of accurate medical records.

A report published last year by Britain's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee accused Team Sky of crossing an "ethical line" by using permitted medications to improve the level of its riders - a claim Sky strongly refuted.

Four-time Tour de France winner Froome also came under the microscope after an adverse doping test at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana showed double the permitted limit of the asthma medication Salbutamol in his system.

He strenuously denied any wrongdoing, won the Giro d'Italia in spectacular fashion while still under investigation, and was cleared by the UCI just before the start of the 2018 Tour de France won by his team mate Thomas.