The Mitchelton-Scott team have confirmed that all the riders and staff of its men's and women's WorldTour teams have taken a substantial pay cut as the team looks to survive the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the subsequent lack of racing, and the major economic downturn.
The Australian team is the fifth WorldTour team to cut costs while racing is suspended and the 2020 race calendar remains uncertain. CCC Team, Astana, Bahrain McLaren and Lotto Soudal have all made cuts or deferred salary payments, with the other teams and many ProTeams are taking or expected to take similar action to survive sponsorship cutbacks.
Reports in Belgium said the Mitchelton-Scott salary cuts were close to 70 per cent but the team preferred not to reveal full details.
Mitchelton-Scott's rosters include Adam and Simon Yates, Esteban Chaves, Jack Haig and many of the best Australian riders in the peloton. The women's 11-rider team is lead by world champion Annemiek van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt.
While some riders and staff of other teams have seen their pay furloughed, so they are able to claim special COVID-19 state benefits, most of Mitchelton-Scott's riders and staff are self employed and paid via the team's Swiss-based management company. Riders and staff will have to investigate what state benefits they can receive from their respective countries of residence. Other teams are directly owned by sponsors or obliged to employ riders and staff and so maybe better protected.
The Mitchelton-Scott team told Cyclingnews that the riders and staff had accepted the salary cut and remain united during the difficulties and local lockdowns, even holding conference calls and virtual rides together.
Mitchelton-Scott where one of the first teams to organise virtual rides on the Zwift platform after suspending their racing activity before Paris-Nice after medical advice. Some riders and staff are based in Andorra, others in Girona, Spain, while the team's service is course is near Varese in northern Italy.
The salary cuts were not linked to a lack of racing for riders and work for staff but based on the need to save budget after cuts in funding. The UCI have been informed. The cuts will be reviewed in the months ahead but have been made to ensure the survival of the team for the rest of 2020 if ands when racing resumes.
Mitchelton-Scott has largely been funded by wealthy Australian businessman Gerry Ryan and his different companies for many years as the team looked to secure a major commercial sponsor. Mitchelton is a wine producer in Australia and Ryan also has interests in the entertainment industry but largely funded the team for his love of cycling rather than direct commercial return.
Ryan, like most companies around the world, is being forced to make tough economic decisions due to the impact of COVID-19.
Last week, the AIGCP teams association wrote a letter to the UCI asking for a series of extraordinary measures to change the financial rules of the sport, including pay cut deferrals, and partial/temporary unemployment. They also asked to introduce salaries below minimum salary if agreed by all parties and "any other temporary compromise which is conducive to saving a team and the jobs that it supports".
The CPA riders association has been trying to defend rider's interests and hope to bring each case before the UCI Arbitration Board to understand if any cuts were done fairly and honestly. The CPA hopes that teams that cut rider salaries will offer riders some kind of contract for 2021 and beyond.