There are conflicting reports over whether RadioShack riders and staff have been paid for the month of May. Cyclingnews understands that the entire roster of riders and staff have not been paid by team owner Flavio Becca but he has denied the claims, saying that a small delay in payment was due to sponsor money not arriving before the end of the last month. He also told Cyclingnews that everyone on the team has now been paid and that the money should clear accounts in the coming days.
“Normally everyone is paid at the end of the month, that means by the end of May. Now it’s 11 days into June and no one has been paid, no riders or staff,” a source within the team told Cyclingnews.
“There’s been no explanation as to why. It’s just like what happened last year. Maybe he is waiting for payments from sponsors. We don't know. Will he be able to pay us till the end of the year?"
Last year the UCI confirmed that three riders of RadioShack-Nissan had not been paid their salaries for several months. Those three riders turned to the world governing body of cycling to signal the failure of payment.
Cyclingnews contacted Becca directly after today’s fresh allegations and the team owner denied that any payments were outstanding. He also reaffirmed his desire to back the team next year. The Luxembourger has financially backed the team since its inception in 2011, when then manager Brian Nygaard proclaimed that “there's a lot of bullshit in cycling”. Nygaard was removed from his duties with Johan Bruyneel replacing him the following season. Bruyneel's tenure reached a similar conclusion when his contract with the team was terminated following the USADA report into US Postal and Lance Armstrong.
“The sponsors have dates where they have fixed payments, but everyone has been paid now, yesterday. We had at the same time last year a six-day delay so there’s not a problem,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I prefer that I don’t have the money and that people are paid, that’s really important for me to say.”
When asked if he still had a desire to bankroll the team for the future, Becca reaffirmed that he would try and back the team next year. “At this moment for sure, why not. The issue with the license is the same thing. You get a licence for four years, but every year you have to complete a new registration. I just didn’t understand the system. If the team is known as Trek Leopard or Leopard Trek, what’s the difference.”
Trek is keen to keep working with Classics star Fabian Cancellara in particular, but Becca is facing several legal cases, one of which involves a loan Leopard received from the team’s former manager Bruyneel.
It was reported in Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt last week that Becca is set to sell the team’s WorldTour licence and that Trek, the team’s bike supplier, will step up and build the team around Cancellara and Andy Schleck.
Trek has a contract with the team for 2014 but would need to secure Becca's WorldTour licence if it wants any current contracts with riders to be valid.
As for the Schlecks, Becca confirmed that Andy was very much still part of his plans, but that no decision had been made regarding older brother Frank, who returned a positive test for Xipamide in last year’s Tour de France.
“First of all, one of them has a contract, Andy, and you know what happened with the other one. Officially he’s still not fired as we have time to take the decision. His contract was clear, it said that if there was a positive, we can immediately end the contract.”
When asked if Frank could even ride for the team this year, Becca said, “It’s too early to clarify that position. It’s too early.”