The professional cyclists’ union, the CPA, says it opposes blanket pay cuts for riders during the coronavirus pandemic which has seen racing suspended until at least 1 June.
The cessation of racing has seen the spring classics season, due to have reached its peak this week with the Tour of Flanders last Sunday followed by Paris-Roubaix this weekend, axed, and has also led to the cancellation of the Giro d’Italia.
With uncertainty also looming over whether the Tour de France can be held as scheduled in late June and the first half of July, there are widespread fears that sponsors, some already struggling in their core activities due to the coronavirus pandemic, may exit a sport that is already characterised by a very fragile business model for its participants.
Teams including Astana, Bahrain-McLaren, CCC and Lotto-Soudal have already cut riders’ salaries, and the teams’ association, the AIGCP, has called on the CPA to be “flexible” in its approach while the crisis continues.
But Gianni Bugno, the two-time road world champion who retired in 1998 and is now president of the CPA rejected the idea of a blanket reduction of riders’ salaries.
“We're aware of the difficulties that sponsors and the teams can face during this emergency; we're ready to listen and to make compromises for the good of the whole sport, but at the same time we will be vigilant to avoid any speculation and to limit the difficulties the riders and their families face,” he said.
“We accept the flexibility the AIGCP has requested but the rules have to be respected. It's not acceptable to make major cuts to salaries without the proof that the contracts cannot be respected.
“We hope everyone will try to find the best solution so that riders, team staff and anyone from the cycling family is not abandoned.”
Through its general secretary Laura Mora, the CPA is participating in meetings hosted by the UCI that bring together the sport’s stakeholders to formulate cycling’s response to the crisis brought about by the pandemic.
She said: “It's the first time we're working alongside rider agents and we've created a working group to move in unison.
“During this phase, so that nobody gains or loses by making agreements that damage others, there's a real need to work together.
“We'll never accept a generalized reduction in salaries; we'll evaluate each case individually and study how to limit the problems with specific help and strategies,” she added.
“We're all in the same boat, in the middle of a storm and so to save everyone, we've got to respect the common principles and really work as a team.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.