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."