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Urán worried about cycling’s future if Tour is canceled

Urán considers there to be just three economically strong teams in the peloton and fears sponsor marketing cuts could push many to the brink.

Rigoberto Urán paints a rather bleak future for professional cycling if the Tour de France is canceled this year and COVID-19 continues to disrupt the world’s economy.

Urán also confirmed a VeloNews report that salaries at EF Pro Cycling have been reduced by 40 percent, and said only a handful of teams might be able to survive if coronavirus continues to shut down racing around the world.

“If we don’t race the Tour, it could be a catastrophe,” Urán said in an interview with the Colombian cycling federation.

“Cycling is a poor sport because it’s only supported by business. For example, of the 18 [WorldTour] teams, only three could survive, and the others face a very complicated future. Right now, there are only three strong teams, economically. There are only a few businesses in the world going well right now. If this keeps going, there’s going to be a crisis, and when a company needs to make cuts, they begin with their marketing projects, and that will impact cycling.”

Racing is suspended until July, but officials are mapping out an alternative calendar that includes the Tour raced from late August into September. Other races, including the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, are expected to be scheduled into the fall, with dates for the women’s calendar and other races still to be determined.

The world economic freeze is putting the pinch on teams across the peloton. Last week, EF Pro Cycling joined another half-dozen WorldTour teams reducing salaries, cutting staff and making budget adjustments to weather the coronavirus storm.

Urán, 33, said he hopes to have a chance to race again later this season following his crash in the 2019 Vuelta, and said a rescheduled Tour won’t be a major problem for the riders, but questioned weather conditions in October and November across Europe.

“I know they want to save their races, and that’s important. If they tell us we have to race in the cold, we’ll race in the cold,” he said. “I also have to see how all this works out, if they let us travel, if they let us enter Europe, or if they let us leave Colombia.”

Urán also revealed that he is continuing to pay 82 employees who work for him and his wife under the “Go Rigo Go” brand, which includes stores and online sales of T-shirts and other clothing.

“I’m still training, and staying active on social media, just to give a bit of distraction,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing is certain right now, our objective right now is to be ready for the Tour. Whether we race it or not remains to be seen. Right now, we have plans in place to be ready for this date.”