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Le Col-Wahoo scrambling for funds after sponsor pulls out of deal

The team is hopeful it can continue in 2023, but has released its riders as management tries to plug a gap of 400,000 euros in its budget.

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Le Col-Wahoo is being forced into a late-season hunt for a new sponsor for 2023 after one of its backers pulled out of its deal Wednesday, VeloNews has learned.

Officials would not confirm which of its sponsors had dropped out, but told VeloNews it would leave a hole of around 400,000 euros in its budget, totally about 45 percent of its total sponsorship.

Both Le Col and Wahoo came on board for this season, boosting the second-tier team’s budget to almost 1 million Euros.

With one of them dropping out, it has left the team scrambling to secure places for its top riders on other teams, while also trying to find a new big-money backer to fill the gap that has been left behind.

“One of our main partners has said that they can’t fulfil their agreement with us so as of last night I made all of the riders and staff aware that they should find another deal,” team manager Tom Varney told VeloNews. “I’m also speaking with other managers that I know to try and help them with that as one of our priorities. As of this morning, I think three or four of them have something, which is helpful.

“If we can move on some of our highest-paid riders it gives us more of a chance of continuing. We have some other conversations ongoing to fill the gap but as things evolve in the next hours and days, I think what we can do next year will become clearer. It is a particularly unfair situation to be put in, especially at this stage.”

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The news of the unexpected sponsor exit comes as the world struggles with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

With the rise in the cost of many materials and many people reducing their spending as the cost-of-living rises, companies are cutting costs and sport sponsorship can be a quick saving for some.

Prior to the news this week, Le Col-Wahoo announced a roster of 12 riders, with five new riders joining an existing core of seven.

Despite the blow, Varney remains hopeful that he will still have a team next season.

However, what that will look like very much depends on if he is able to bring another sponsor on board.

“As things stand, we have our second highest budget for next year, so it’s still a positive situation based on what we’re used to. It’s not near what we had last season,” Varney said. “I think the most likely situation is that we’ll continue on at a lower level, but I don’t know what that will look like and what structure and race program we can provide.

“I’m not shying away from it, and I’m trying to help riders and speaking to managers. We have a lot of good people who have taken it quite well considering. Let’s see how it involves.”