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Riders from Bigla-Katusha have addressed an open letter to their sponsors to urge for their ongoing support.
The letter has been issued off the back of Friday’s news that Bigla has withdrawn payments to the team due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Co-sponsor Katusha is already one month behind on contractual payments. With both team-backers on the ropes, the team’s future is in doubt.
“It is clear we are in unprecedented times,” read the letter. “More than ever, right now is the time for each and every one of us, both companies and individuals, to show their commitment to one another. It is in hardship that we see what we are truly made of. We are fully committed to this team, partners, and one another. We hope our title partners will look back after this pandemic has passed with pride and be able to say they did everything they could to honor their commitments.”
The team had a promising start to the year, taking two stage wins at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana with Emma Cecilie Norsgaard and American rider Leah Thomas, and placing Lizzie Banks into the top-6 of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
“We haven’t yet won that big race, but every time we toe the start line, we get a little closer. We attack. We light up races. We are relentless. And we are learning and growing in ability and confidence. We know that success comes through the work of the team, and it is our united front and willingness to sacrifice that makes us stronger,” read the letter.
“We have integrity and compassion. We honor our commitments and do everything we can to meet expectations. When the pandemic hit, riders who were in medicine put their lives on hold to return to the hospitals [referring to recently-graduated doctor Elise Chabbey]. Riders deliver food to the poor and the elderly in their communities. We are more than just bike racers. We are kind, caring individuals.”