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CCC team could be on the ropes as title sponsor struggles

Owner of Polish shoemaker hints cycling teams could be 'reduced or closed' in wake of economic fallout from the pandemic.

CCC Team could be facing an uncertain future, as remarks from team backer Dariusz Miłek suggest that cuts are imminent.

The Polish footwear company’s revenue is dropping dramatically as a result of the world coronavirus pandemic, with share prices nearly 90 percent off their market highs from 2019. Speaking to Polish media, Miłek said cost-cutting measures across the entire company could mean the WorldTour as well as the women’s and development teams could be “reduced or closed.”

“We are now fighting for our business,” Miłek told the Polish website Rowery. “It would be immoral to reduce our number of employees while excluding cyclists [from cuts]. We will provide details in the coming weeks.

“[Cuts] will be potentially painful, but necessary in this situation,” Miłek continued. “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.”

Milek’s dramatic public comments reveal how tenuous the team’s future could be. VeloNews confirmed there was a conference call with riders on Friday, and officials said they are awaiting word from management about the possible impacts of the team.

Miłek, who grew to become one of Poland’s richest men from an international chain of shoe stores, took over the BMC Racing Team for the 2019 season as part of a three-year deal. It also backs CCC-Liv women’s squad, as well as a development team. Some 28 riders are on the WorldTour team, with 15 on the women’s team, including star Marianne Vos, and another 10 on the development team. The team also employs more than 60 sport directors, mechanics, bus drivers, soigneurs and other support staff.

Milek cited the international suspension of racing, now in place until June 1, and uncertainty over the future of the Tour de France this summer. With stores around the world closed, the company’s revenues have taken a hit.

“We have a contract that obliges us for this year and for the next, but the company must — and wants to — withdraw from it at a low cost, because the cyclists simply do not provide services,” Milek told Polish media. “We don’t have 265 racing days on Eurosport, they canceled Giro d’Italia … and maybe the Tour de France. So it makes no sense to invest in this sponsorship, since we have no benefit from it.”

The uncertain future of CCC Team comes as teams across the peloton are suddenly on shaky ground. Lotto-Soudal, Astana, and Bahrain-McLaren have all reduced or deferred salaries to try to weather a racing season already thrown into turmoil.

Speaking to journalists Thursday, team star Greg Van Avermaet admitted that reductions could be on the horizon.

“I think the most important thing is to be aware of what your sponsors are feeling about the crisis. If your sponsor is a supermarket, well, they are probably doing quite well,” Van Avermaet said. “But companies like CCC or Giant bikes — our biggest sponsors — are suffering from this crisis. And I think it is normal in these moments we have to be open for some kind of a pay cut. I think it is normal during these times. I am not able to do my job 100 percent and we need to get through this together.”