Van Avermaet 'open' to pay cut as CCC boss hints at sponsorship cuts

VILLAREAL SPAIN FEBRUARY 05 Start Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium and CCC Team Matteo Trentin of Italy and CCC Team Nathan Van Hooydonck of Belgium and CCC Team during the 71st Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020 Stage 1 a 180km stage from Castell to VilaReal VueltaCV VCV2020 on February 05 2020 in Villareal Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
Greg Van Avermaet at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana earlier this year (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Greg Van Avermaet has said he is 'open' to the idea of taking a pay cut, as the boss of the title sponsor of his CCC Team revealed his business is struggling due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

With racing cancelled until the start of June at the earliest, professional cycling teams find themselves in a precarious financial position, and Lotto Soudal, Astana, and Bahrain McLaren are among those who have already cut salaries.

On Thursday, a report on the Polish website Rowery detailed how Dariusz Milek, head of the Polish footwear giant CCC, was looking to cut costs. The company’s share prices have reportedly dropped by 90 per cent compared to 2018, while revenues are down nine per cent year-on-year for the first quarter.

"Decisions regarding the level of our involvement in sports sponsorship will be made in the comping weeks. They will be potentially painful, but necessary in this situation," Milek said.

"Cyclists are not currently riding and will not be riding for a long time, so they will not achieve the marketing goals set for this sport project. We are now fighting for our business, so there is no room for sentiment when it comes to the actions that bring a reduction in costs. It would be immoral to reduce employee costs while excluding cyclists."

Milek has been involved in cycling for 20 years and took over what was the old BMC Racing WorldTour team ahead of the 2019 season after previously sponsoring a second-division team. As well as the WorldTour squad, he also sponsors the women’s team CCC-Liv and a men’s development set-up.

Speaking to reporters via video conference on Thursday afternoon, Van Avermaet was clearly aware of the financial troubles faced by CCC.

"If you’re sponsored by a supermarket, you will probably not be taking a pay cut, because they’re having a great time at the moment, but companies like CCC and Giant – our biggest sponsors – are suffering from the crisis," he said.

As for pay cuts, Van Avermaet said he was open to the idea and others should be too. He wants to show solidarity with the sponsors but expects that the be reciprocated further down the line.

"We are still discussing this but we are open to having a pay cut. We’ll see what happens, and it’s also the job of the manager, but I think the riders should be open to it," he said.

"I think it’s normal in this kind of time. I’m not doing my job 100 per cent because I cannot race. We should be loyal to our sponsors and stand behind them in crisis, and hopefully we can come out together strongly.

"The most important thing for me is that after this virus is done, they can step up again and they have no problem to sponsor longer or go for another year."

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.