Katusha-Alpecin riders are set to be paid their October wages from the team’s UCI bank guarantee after a sponsor failed to meet their financial obligations.
The staff and riders had to wait a full month for September's wages and, although those funds were eventually paid by the team, there has been a second delay of roughly 15 days with October salaries.
On Thursday, a team spokesperson confirmed that none of the staff and riders had been paid for October but that a resolution was just a matter of days away. However, the UCI confirmed on Friday that it has begun the process of unlocking the team’s bank guarantee in order to cover the shortfall of funds.
"The UCI is aware of this situation and is working with the team to allow for the release of funds from the bank guarantee held by the UCI to ensure payment of rider and staff wages," a UCI spokesman told Cyclingnews.
It is understood that the delay related to a late payment from a key sponsor of the team, although the Katusha-Alpecin spokesperson would not confirm which particular sponsor had not met its financial obligations.
"Everyone has been paid for September but we have a bit of a delay for October," Alexis Schoeb, Katusha-Alpecin’s lawyer, told Cyclingnews on Thursday.
"It’s a normal delay due to cash availability at the end of the season. I don’t think that there’s any issue at this stage. Riders and staff have been informed of the delay and been told that it’s just a matter of one or two days – so Friday or Monday at the latest.
"It depends on the payment from the sponsors. Some sponsors have an arrangement where they pay at the end of the month so it puts you in a cash flow situation. Obviously everyone will be paid. This isn’t something that I like or find personally acceptable but everyone is aware of the situation."
UCI WorldTour teams must supply the UCI with a bank guarantee when they register for the season ahead. This usually covers three months of wages and offers protection to riders and staff if a sponsor abandons the sport or the team faces other cash flow problems.
In 2018 the Aqua Blue Sport team folded mid-season after the team’s owner decided to stop funding the squad. The UCI bank guarantee was used to cover wages.
At the start of this year, Bahrain-Merida riders were forced to wait a month for their December 2018 wages. In that instance, the bank guarantee was not used.
Katusha riders have endured a difficult year on and off the bike. During the spring, rumours circulated that the team would fold. Later, bike supplier Canyon and co-sponsor Alpecin decided to end their association with the team at the end of 2019.
Team management looked for a new backer but were unable to find one until Israel Cycling Academy decided to take over the team’s licence for 2020. That deal is still being studied by the UCI, with final decisions on WorldTour team registration due in early December.