The riders of Bigla-Katusha have written an open letter asking their sponsors to honour their commitments to the team after the squad’s future was put in jeopardy due to their funding being withdrawn.
Katusha had already declined to pay the team last month before Bigla wrote to the team saying they wished to withdraw their funding last week.
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12 of the team’s riders, including Brits Lizzy Banks and Sophie Wright as well as the American Leah Thomas, are now asking for their sponsors to continue to support them despite the financial difficulties caused by coronavirus pandemic.
“Bigla has been a tireless supporter of the squad since 2005 and its financial support has allowed this team to grow and develop many of the top riders within the peloton today. It is our first year working with Katusha – a fantastic clothing company,” their open letter reads. “Therefore, we were saddened to recently learn that both Bigla and Katusha, our main title partners, have told the team that they are in a position where they are not able to commit their usual financial support to the team during the current crisis.”
The riders said that now was the time for everyone to show “what we are truly made of” and for their sponsors to fulfil the commitments they had promised.
“It is clear we are in unprecedented times. More than ever right now is the time for each and every one of us, both companies and individuals, to show their commitment to one another. It is in hardship that we see what we are truly made of. We are fully committed to this team, partners, and one another. We hope our title partners will look back after this pandemic has passed with pride and be able to say they did everything they could to honor their commitments.”
Bigla’s riders have been doing their bit to help during the global crisis, with those who worked in medicine returning to hospitals to work while others have been delivering groceries to those in need in their local area.
“We have integrity and compassion. We honour our commitments and do everything we can to meet expectations. When the pandemic hit, riders who were in medicine put their lives on hold to return to the hospitals. Riders deliver food to the poor and elderly in their communities. We are more than just bike racers. We are kind, caring individuals,” the riders said.
A number of teams have been placed in financial difficulty as the season and world has ground to a halt, with WorldTour outfits Bahrain-McLaren and Lotto-Soudal cutting pay while CCC’s future looks to be in doubt due to the struggles of the sponsor.
“We don’t give up. It has become our defining characteristic. And we will continue to fight, just like our scrappy racing style, to find a way forward. If there is a way you can help keep this dream alive, we will be forever grateful,” the letter ends.