Lotto-Soudal riders take pay cut as support staff made temporarily unemployed

The Belgian WorldTour team says they are going through a difficult economic period due to the postponement of races

Lotto-Soudal (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

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."

>>> Which races have been cancelled? Full list of events called off because of coronavirus

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’EquipeMaracineanu 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."

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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.