Lotto-Soudal have been forced to make 25 support staff unemployed while riders have voluntarily cut their salaries as the team feels the impact of race postponements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Belgian WorldTour team say members of support staff have been made temporarily unemployed, including mechanics, soigneurs, physiotherapists and bus drivers, while self-employed people who work with the team have had their contracts suspended.
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Therefore, the team says staff and self-employed personnel will be able to access financial help from the Belgian government, with more than one million people in Belgium ending up in temporary unemployment.
The 27 riders in Lotto-Soudal’s squad have been kept on but with voluntarily reduced pay until the team races again. A statement from the team read: “This decision was taken without discussion and with unanimity. It was clear to everyone that particular circumstances require particular team actions.”
The coronavirus pandemic’s effect on cycling could be bleak, says Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere, who warned last week that if the Tour de France doesn’t go ahead “the whole cycling model could collapse”.
“All companies that export will see their turnover drop and then savings are quickly made on marketing. It would be naive to think that the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis won’t affect cycling,” he said.
One possible resolution that has been suggested is the French Grand Tour taking place behind closed doors.
French Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu has suggested the Tour could still be run for the benefit of TV, but without the millions of fans lining the roads.
According to French newspaper L’Equipe, Maracineanu said: “The economic model of the Tour de France is not based on ticketing but on TV rights.
“In this period of confinement, everyone is aware and responsible. Everyone understands the benefits of staying at home and therefore favouring the television show rather than seeing it live. Finally, it would not be so bad since we could follow [the Tour] on television.”