Defiant cyclists reject universal wage cut amid coronavirus chaos

Paris (AFP) –


A universal wage cut to limit the damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic on world cycling is off the table, the sport's Swiss based association of active pro riders insisted on Friday.

The association internationale des coureurs (CPA) says it is ready to compromise but will never accept an across-the-board salary reduction.

Professional cycling faces grave uncertainty due to the shutdown and should the 2020 Tour de France be cancelled it is feared sponsors will flee the sport.

All riders under a contract with a WorldTour, Pro Continental or Continental team are members of the CPA, whose statutes are protected by Swiss law.

Several top calibre WorldTour teams -- CCC, Mitchelton, Astana, Bahrain and Lotto -- have introduced wage cuts, in some cases up to 80 percent for the duration of the lockdown after the teams association AIGCP asked riders to be flexible.

"We are ready to listen," said former pro Gianni Bugno, president of the CPA.

"We are ready to compromise for the good of the sport," said the former Giro d'Italia winner and two-time world road race champion.

"We accept the flexibility asked for by the AIGCP.

"But the rules must be adhered to."

"Major cuts are inacceptable without proof that contracts cannot be fulfilled.

- Emergency -

"We're aware of the difficulties that sponsors and the teams can face during this emergency," he said.

"But we will be vigilant to avoid any speculation and to limit the difficulties the riders and their families face."

CPA Secretary General Laura Mora said there was no place for an across-the-board salary reduction.

"Each case needs to be individually analysed so we can limit the damage with specific strategies," she said.

In a statement the CPA called for unity in a time of crisis.

"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," she said.

The Giro d'Italia and spring classics have been cancelled and the Tour de France is in doubt. The world championships in both mountain bike and BMX have also been called off.

For the moment, the road World Championships scheduled in Switzerland at the end of September seem to be safe.

But the International Cycling Union said it had received more than 650 requests for postponements or cancellations of events over a period extending to the month of August.

Some teams fear the worst with no in end sight to the current suspension.

"Without the Tour de France, cycling would have a very big problem," Ralph Denk, boss of the German Bora team, told German daily Die Welt.

Patrick Lefevere, the head of the Deceuninck team, faced with the reduction in investment from his main sponsor, agreed.

"If the Tour were not to be raced, it would be a hard blow that (Tour organisers) ASO could probably absorb, but not the teams," he told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "It could bring down the whole model on which our sport is built."