April 27, 2020 / 11:57 AM / 3 months ago

Cycling: Riders committed to Bigla-Katusha despite funding withdrawal

(Reuters) - Bigla-Katusha’s riders remain “fully committed” to the Swiss women’s cycling team after their title partners withdrew funding due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they said on Monday.

Bigla have been a partner since 2005 but last week withdrew all funding. Katusha, who were brought in as co-sponsors for this season, have been unable to make payments for the past month as cycling remains suspended due to the outbreak.

Teams have been hit after 14 of the 22 Women’s World Tour events were cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak and the riders said they would present a united front and honour their commitments to the team.

“We are fully committed to this team, partners, and one another,” the team’s riders, who include Britain’s Lizzy Banks and Swiss Elise Chabbey, said in an open letter.

“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 honour their commitments.

“We don’t give up. It has become our defining characteristic. We will continue to fight, just like our scrappy racing style, to find a way forward. If there is a way you can help keep this dream alive, we will be forever grateful.”

Bigla-Katusha are not the first cycling team to land in financial trouble due to the outbreak, with several men’s professional teams, such as Astana and Bahrain-McLaren, reducing riders’ salaries.

Team Ineos general manager Dave Brailsford said earlier this month that many teams could go under if sponsors decided to pull their funding.

Chabbey, who recently qualified as a doctor, joined Geneva University Hospital as an intern last month and was in the frontline dealing with patients suffering from COVID-19.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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