Belgian team Deceuninck-Quick-Step has been hit with a funding threat from title sponsor Deceuninck.
The classics superteam is facing the prospect of paying compensation to Deceuninck, a designer of PVC window and door products. In the wake of the cancelation of the spring classics due to the global coronavirus shutdown, the sponsor is seeking some comeback from a loss of exposure.
“We are indeed talking about compensation,” Francis Van Eeckhout, CEO of Deceuninck said Tuesday. “Hopefully we’ll get out.”
“That missed spring is an issue,” Van Eeckhout told Het Nieuwsblad. “In our second season as the main sponsor, we wanted to reap the benefits of the collaboration. That doesn’t work now. ”
With stars such as Remco Evenepoel, Yves Lampaert, Julian Alaphilippe and Zdenek Stybar missing a key period of action during the racing stop, ‘the wolfpack‘ has been denied the opportunity at a slew of top results. They had already visited the podium twice in the ‘opening weekend’ of the spring classics earlier this year, with Kasper Asgreen winning Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Lampaert coming a close second at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
“The agreement is to keep the discussions internal,” Van Eeckhout said. “We are not going to mention numbers. But it seems clear to me that we are not talking about an extra charge. I hope we get there ‘as decent people’. We know how many staff the team employs. It is certainly not the intention to pull the plug.”
Several WorldTour teams have already resorted to cutting rider pay, with Mitchelton-Scott reducing rider salaries and rider wages, as has also been done by CCC Team, Bahrain-McLaren, Astana, and Lotto Soudal. In the absence of racing, teams are also able to reduce expenses by reducing spending on temporary staff such as mechanics and drivers. Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Belgian rival Lotto Soudal has already reduced self-employed staffers.
Patrick Lefevere, boss of Deceuninck-Quick-Step is aware that the lack of racing is already easing some financial pressure. In the meantime, he has until April 20th to reevaluate at budgets before further talks with Deceuninck.
“Our staff is technically unemployed — people who work independently for the team, are invoiced less. Our fleet is at a standstill. We are already saving this way,” he said. “I also want to wait until April 20 to get a global picture. Because it will not only be Deceuninck who passes. But also Quick-Step, Maes, Lidl, Latexco… ”
In the wake of the racing stop, teams have been looking to give their sponsors exposure elsewhere. Last weekend, the first-ever virtual Tour of Flanders was raced online in the absence of the ‘real’ version. Evenepoel, Lampaert and Stybar all raced the 32km simulation of De Ronde, with CCC Team’s Greg van Avermaet scooping the win.
“Last year, of course, they were spoiled with shit. And now it is much less,” Lefevere said of the team’s 68 race wins in 2019. “But you also cannot say that we do not offer exposure. Our social media figures are better than last year. And last Sunday, more than 600,000 people watched the virtual Tour of Flanders.”
Lefevere has previously indicated that the successful running of the Tour de France could be a make-or-break for many team’s finances. Organizer ASO has recently indicated they are looking to postpone the Tour by one month, with a final verdict due by mid-May.