By Jonny Long
Patrick Lefevere has said he is worried the business model of cycling could collapse if the 2020 Tour de France is cancelled due to coronavirus.
In his Het Nieuwsblad column, the Deceuninck - Quick-Step boss says he thinks teams will struggle to survive if the French Grand Tour is called off, with the race providing teams' sponsors the most visibility of any point throughout the year.
"Organiser ASO can take a beating, the teams cannot. If there is no Tour de France, the whole model of cycling could collapse," Lefevere said.
"We are talking about a total disaster, but it would be downright stupid not to take this possibility into account. My thinking is to always start from a best-case and a worst-case scenario.
"In the first case we race again in June, in the worst case, the season is over. I may be a pessimist, but who would have dared to predict three weeks ago that half of Europe would suddenly be under house arrest?"
Lefevere says that for his squad they've already missed the most important period after the spring Classics were cancelled but thinks his sponsors will remain loyal.
"The spring, the most important showcase for my team, is completely gone. At Quick-Step we have certainly built up historical credit but this is only our second year with Deceuninck. We have won 83 races so far, so I hope they will think about that too," Lefevere said.
The Tour aside, Lefevere says the expected economic downturn brought about by coronavirus will ultimately see disruption within cycling's economy as marketing budgets begin to get squeezed.
"I realise that in that big story, cycling is just a footnote, but I'm a cycling team manager, so I'm also worried," he said.
"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."
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.