CCC's sponsorship of their WorldTour team could be "reduced or stopped" as the Polish footwear giant run into serious financial issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dariusz Miłek, the founder of CCC and apparent fourth richest person in Poland, has said hard decisions will be made in the coming weeks as CCC's revenue fell nine per cent and the company share price is just 90 per cent of its 2018 level. Miłek has suggested cost-cutting will be severe, using the anology that they will be made with an axe rather than a penknife.
"We are now fighting for our company," Miłek told Polish website Rowery (opens in new tab). "It would be immoral to reduce our number of employees while maintaining sponsorship of cycling teams.
"We have a contract that obliges us [to sponsor the team] for this year and for the next, but the company must and wants to withdraw from it at a low cost because the cyclists simply aren't providing promotional services. We don't have 265 racing days at Eurosport, the Giro d'Italia's been cancelled, the Tour de France is also looking uncertain. So it makes no sense to invest in this sponsorship since we have no benefit from it," Miłek said in a press conference, reported by Sportowe Fakty (opens in new tab).
The team's star rider, Greg Van Avermaet, has said the squad is open to salary cuts to ease the pressure, with other WorldTour outfits such as Lotto-Soudal and Bahrain-Merida already planning salary cuts amidst the financial turmoil brought on by the lack of racing.
"Our sponsors are affected by this crisis," Van Avermaet said. "I'm currently not doing 100 per cent of my job because I can't race. We are open to a salary reduction. We must be loyal to our sponsors and support them. Most importantly, so they can continue and have no problems with their sponsorships in the future."
Attempts are being made to salvage some racing for teams, sponsors and fans after the pandemic shut down sporting events around the world for the foreseeable future.
A virtual Tour of Flanders will be held in place of the real race on Sunday April 5, featuring CCC's Van Avermaet, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
Thirteen riders in total will complete the final 32km of the race, which will be held on indoor training platform Bkool and feature the iconic climbs of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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