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EF Pro Cycling offers contract extensions for riders who took COVID-19 pay cuts

VILLANUEVA DE VALDEGOVIA SPAIN OCTOBER 27 Start Hugh Carthy of The United Kingdom and Team EF Pro Cycling Mitchell Docker of Australia and Team EF Pro Cycling VitoriaGasteiz Team Presentation during the 75th Tour of Spain 2020 Stage 7 a 1597km from VitoriaGasteiz to Villanueva de Valdegovia lavuelta LaVuelta20 La Vuelta on October 27 2020 in Villanueva de Valdegovia Spain Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
EF Pro Cycling at the Vuelta a España (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The EF Pro Cycling squad has taken the unprecedented step to offer one year extensions to all riders who took pay cuts this year and whose contracts were due to expire at the end of 2020, the team confirmed to Cyclingnews on Wednesday.

EF were one of several WorldTour teams to ask riders and staff to take wage cuts to keep the team afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the UCI to stop all road events from mid-March to late July. 

Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said that offering contracts to riders who were burdened with the cuts was only fair.

"The 2020 season was unprecedented across the sport and beyond. Our riders worked with management to put the preservation of the team above themselves, taking wage reductions in order to help the team through the season and into the next. It was only right to offer all riders who took reductions, contracts for the 2021 season," said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters.

"I truly appreciate our riders helping the team this year. Under hard circumstances, the team pulled together, raced beautifully and with heart, and is moving forward together."

Following the COVID-19 lockdowns, EF Pro Cycling emerged as one of the top 10 WorldTour teams, with stage wins in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de France, two in the Giro d'Italia and the mountains classification with Ruben Guerreiro and a stage in the Vuelta a España.

But several riders have been left behind when racing resumed and have only raced a handful of events.

US champion Alex Howes, who had only two days of racing in the second half of the season, said on Twitter he was looking forward to another year with Lachlan Morton, who renewed with the team on Wednesday.

Moreno Hofland has only competed in two races since the season opener, the Tour Down Under. Hofland told BN De Stem he was taking the offer.

"I will stay with this team. At the beginning of September, the team announced that they would give everyone who wanted it a new chance," Hofland said. "They are reasonable because of all the corona problems. I think that's great. For me that corona break turned out completely wrong, so it's nice that a team looks at it like that."

Hofland said he was too eager during the COVID-19 lockdown and overtrained. While he came back at Tour de Pologne, the opening stage crash of Fabio Jakobsen was a big psychological blow.

"I saw it happening right in front of me. You cannot not be bothered by that," Hofland said. In the following stages, he said "The stages were more difficult and I didn't recover. Afterwards, tests showed that I had just completely fucked myself during that corona-break.

"A bit the same as what happened to Mathieu van der Poel. Only he can do better and I may have trained much crazier. You think you are doing it all right. Until you find out at the first race in Poland that it is no longer possible."

Several riders have announced they would leave the team in recent weeks. Kristoffer Halvorsen left the WorldTour team to drop back to the ProTeam level with Uno-X after losing his motivation during the lockdowns.

Meanwhile, climber Dani Martínez signed with Ineos, Tanel Kangert with Mitchelton-Scott, and Sep Vanmarcke and Michael Woods will move to Israel Start-Up Nation.

Riders coming to the end of their contract this year include Sean Bennett, Giro d'Italia stage winner Jonathan Caicedo, Simon Clarke, Mitch Docker, Jens Keukeleire, Sebastian Langeveld, Tom Scully, Rigoberto Uran, Julius van den Berg and Tejay van Garderen.

It is unclear which riders took pay cuts and not yet announced which riders have accepted the offer of a deal through 2021 with EF Pro Cycling.