Women’s squad Bigla-Katusha have had to resort to drastic measures to stay afloat, after 100 per cent of their funding was withdrawn.
The Danish team, home to British riders Lizzy Banks and Sophie Wright, announced earlier this month that headline sponsor Bigla had pulled its cash out, while cycling clothing company Katusha also declined to pay the team last month.
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In an attempt to secure their future, the team have now approached the UCI for access to emergency funds to pay staff and riders for April, and have launched a fundraising campaign in the hopes of continuing racing.
Sponsor Katusha has also announced that sales from the Bigla-Katusha line of team kit will be donated to the squad to support the riders.
In a statement, Bigla-Katusha CEO and co-owner Priska Doppmann Campana, said: “Following the news we received from our title partners, team management has agreed to put into force an immediate action plan.
“We firstly aim to secure payments to staff and riders for April. This involves asking the UCI to unlock our bank guarantee.
“We will also launch a fan support program next week, to provide fans the ability to financially support the team through its partners.”
Katusha joined the team as a title sponsor for the 2020 season, but company says it has struggled financially due to the coronavirus crisis.
This global pandemic has also resulted in all racing being suspended, so professional cycling teams and their sponsors are not getting their usual exposure.
The bank guarantee is an emergency fund held by the UCI that each team pays a percentage of its budget into when registering for a new season, which can be used to cover wages and other costs when a team is in financial difficulty.
Bigla-Katusha has also launched a fundraising campaign in the hopes of raising 170,000 Swiss Francs (£140,000) so the team can continue racing in 2020 and beyond. You can view the fundraising page here.
A number of teams have turned to crowdfunding during times of crisis in recent years, including men’s WorldTour team Cannondale-Drapac (now EF Pro Cycling), who turned to fans to help save the team at the end of 2017.
Bigla-Katusha’s CEO added: “In addition, following the overwhelming support from the international cycling community, we will launch a crowdfunding campaign to secure funds for our short-term future.
“We aim to remain in full operation in 2020 to facilitate our riders’ preparation for the World Championships and Olympic Games, and also to become a WorldTour team next year.
“We are now therefore actively pursuing new sponsorship opportunities, and believe that with our existing, and new partners, we can successfully realise these goals.”
So far the team has raised 1,334 Swiss Francs towards their target.