Deceuninck-QuickStep general manager Patrick Lefevere is eager to see his riders return to racing. After visiting the squad at its altitude camp at Val di Fassa in Northern Italy, he told Het Laatste Nieuws that the coronavirus stoppage has had a huge impact on the team's finances and warns that a second lockdown would be 'fatal'.
"I estimate the loss of direct income already at €1.3 million," Lefevere said in an interview. "But the year is not yet over. I won't have the final balance sheet until December 31. The damage is expected to have risen to €3 to 4 million."
That sum includes the planned three months of racing, including the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España and the Classics.
"If corona[virus] paralyzes everything again, then we are completely in the shit. You don't tell any businessman in the world that he should invest without getting anything in return. Sponsors will not continue to pay for our beautiful blue eyes, I'm afraid," Lefevere warned.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have gathered the entire team in Italy, preferring to keep everyone together to best protect from the coronavirus. The WorldTour resumes on August 1 with Strade Bianche and there will be no time to waste in a compressed rescheduled road season.
"We are ready physically and mentally for the restart of the season," Lefevere says, but with the virus not even close to under control in countries like the United States, Brazil, India and Russia and popping up again in Australia, he says the chance of it surging in Europe again is chilling.
He hopes that the racing can go ahead COVID-19-free. "The big condition: everyone must use common sense. And don't screw it up anymore. Do not tempt fate, as several people have done in recent weeks. You don't see the virus. But it is there. It roams like a sniper, a sniper. Pay attention. Because a second economic lockdown would be fatal. A disaster for all of us."
Lefevere said that April was the worst month for the team's sponsors who questioned continuing to support the team while putting two thousand employees on unemployment. Fortunately, the situation improved and Lefevere was able to negotiate an extension through the end of 2021 with his sponsors.
"But it shouldn't stop there. I sincerely hope that there will be a follow-up," he said.
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