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Growing concern for futures of five WorldTour teams

Joe Robinson
11 May 2020

The financial uncertainty of coronavirus is impacting some WorldTour teams more than others

There is growing concern that some men's WorldTour cycling teams may disappear due to financial hardships being experienced by sponsors during the coronavirus pandemic. UCI President David Lappartient told press last week that the UCI is aware of 'three, four, five teams' who have 'more problems than others' financially and that he hopes 'they all reach the end of the season'.

So far, CCC Team, Lotto-Soudal, Mitchelton-Scott, Bahrain-McLaren and Astana have all confirmed cost-cutting measures as a result of the postponement of racing ranging from temporarily laying off staff to reducing rider salaries.

Sources have suggested to Cyclist that riders at certain teams have accepted as much as a 70% pay cut while racing is cancelled. Women's World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten also told Cyclist recently that she had accepted a substantial pay reduction from the Mitchelton-Scott team.

The most precariously placed team, it seems, is CCC which is financed by a budget Polish footwear company. With stores closed and profits down, owner Dariusz Milek stated sponsorship of the team would be reduced or stopped entirely due to the financial situation it finds itself in.

With staff and riders unsure of whether they will have a sponsor for the remainder of 2020, let alone beyond, even star riders such as Greg Van Avermaet are beginning to worry about what the future could look like.

'I have to say I haven’t slept well in a few nights. This is not a situation where you just crawl into your bed and close your eyes. Nobody wanted it this way and nobody has bad will towards each other now,' Van Avermaet told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

'If we manage to compromise, we’ll see what happens next year. Hopefully, we can start a new project, although it is not an obvious time to find sponsorship.'

WorldTour racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday 1st August with Strade Bianche in Tuscany, Italy, however, this is subject to any rules put in place by national governments.

The financial uncertainty of many teams has even seen individuals within the sport to suggest a changing of cycling's business model of relying on external sponsors to fund teams.

The most prevalent to have suggested this was Dave Brailsford, manager of Team Ineos, a team funded by billionaire entrepreneur Jim Ratcliffe to the tune of around £40 million per year.

'One of the challenges cycling has is that revenue is totally dependent on sponsors and different sponsors are in different businesses and some are more effective than others in the current climate,' Brailsford told BBC Radio Four.

'Modernising the business model going forward would be wise for everybody.'

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