Lance Armstrong has urged pro riders to “take back power” after their paychecks have been slashed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A number of teams have reduced riders’ salaries and temporarily laid off support staff as budgets tighten and their sponsors brace for the financial turmoil caused by the virus, with the suspension of the racing calendar also reducing any promotional benefit their sponsorship could reap.
“All the pro riders who are sitting at home now, who are unsure if they will receive their pay next month and if their team will survive this: this is your chance,” Armstrong said on his podcast, The Move. “Now is the chance to start from scratch, get a seat at the negotiating table and take back power. If you don’t seize this opportunity now, you may never get it again.
“Just think about that. Talk to each other as a platoon and unite. You are the actors in the play, and without the actors, the play is cancelled.”
Last month, Mitchelton-Scott’s Brent Bookwalter said the current riders’ union, the CPA, is not equipped to stand up for the interests of pros.
Lotto-Soudal, Bahrain-McLaren and CCC are among the team who have been forced to suspend contracts of staff and reduce riders’ salaries. Meanwhile, teams that have so far escaped financial hardship have been stepping up efforts to combat the virus.
Team Ineos have been helping their sponsor deliver free hand sanitiser to NHS hospitals, with star rider Geraint Thomas also planning three 12-hour Zwift rides replicating NHS workers’ shifts to raise money for the National Health Service.
In terms of the financial future of teams and riders, M2 Sports’ Steve Fry believes some teams may be able to weather the storm better than others, depending on financial setup, but that if squads do fall by the wayside it will be riders further down the food chain, or that are younger and less established, that will be hit hardest.
“As is always the case, the place where it hits the hardest is further down the chain. So for those domestiques and younger riders that have maybe only have a couple of year’s experience in the WorldTour and haven’t maybe fully established themselves in terms of either being a race winner or a valued domestique, they become surplus to requirement very, very quickly, unfortunately,” Fry told Cycling Weekly. “That’s just the way it goes. If teams go by the wayside it will be those guys who suffer.”