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Deceuninck indicates sponsorship is secure until 2021 but Lefevere warns of lost season

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe at the 2020 Tour Colombia 2.1
Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe at the 2020 Tour Colombia 2.1 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Deceuninck has reportedly said it will respect its sponsorship contract with Patrick Lefevere's Deceuninck-QuickStep team until 2021 and possibly extend it, giving the Belgian team some sense of financial stability to weather the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  

At the start of April, Deceuninck CEO Francis Van Eeckhout revealed he would sit down with Lefevere on April 20 to talk sponsorship after they were unable to reap the benefits of their backing due to the cancellation of the spring classics and the loss of all racing until at least July 1

"We are going to carry out our three-year contract. In the hope that no other virus will flatten the world in 2021, I assume that everyone will be even more crazy about [Julian] Alaphilippe and [Remco] Evenepoel," Van Eeckhout said according to Het Laatste Nieuws.

Like most businesses, the Belgian PVC window and door producer has seen its business hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and is making drastic changes to its business plans.

"Going forward, we then have to decide: shall we continue or not? Does this yield sufficient added value for us? The current economic reality calls for caution.

"Of course we want to recoup what we spend on sponsorship. The question is whether that will be the case in 2022 and beyond."

Lefevere has used Belgian state support to cover some of his staff's salaries as he tries to save as much of his 2020 budget as possible. It is unclear if some team sponsors have cut their funding but Cyclingnews understands that rider salaries have all been paid to date. Other teams, including Mitchelton-Scott, CCC Team, EF Pro Cycling and Astana have cut rider salaries to survive, while other teams have laid off or furloughed staff.

Lefevere, like every team manager, is hoping the Tour de France can be held in September. The French Grand Tour accounts for between 70-80 per cent of sponsor brand visibility and so is vital to the survival of a number of teams. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep have Alaphilippe, Evenepoel, Sam Bennett and Bob Jungels among their roster and enjoyed a hugely successful 2019 season, but they depend on sponsorship to survive. An estimated 80 per cent of a team budget goes on rider salaries.

"Last year, they [team sponsors] were of course spoiled," Lefevere said of Deceuninck-QuickStep's 68 race victories. "Now, we're not winning as much, but you can't say that we haven't been offering exposure.

"Without the Tour, a lot of teams will have a hard time," Lefevere told HLN.  "Some teams aren't telling the full truth about wages, unemployment status and layoffs. I'm try to keep everyone on board but I have no surplus. If there is no racing in August, I honestly don't know anymore and I can't think about it.

"My mother used to say: 'Hope makes fools live'. I'd say: Let keep hoping and… pray."