Unemployment benefits keeping staff of some Belgian ProTeams afloat

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Pro racing squads are beginning to feel the financial impact of the mass race cancellations and postponements brought on by the coronavirus crisis. With no races on their calendars for the foreseeable future, at least two Belgian ProTeams are relying on government unemployment programs to keep staff afloat.

Sporza reports that 11 Circus-Wanty Gobert team staff members are claiming unemployment benefits, while Het Laatste Nieuws reports that Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles has also turned to the government aid program in the absence of income that typically comes from attending races. What would typically be a busy stretch for squads based in Belgium is instead a tough time financially for organizations across the sport.

As Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles manager Christophe Brandt explained to Het Laatste Nieuws, “You should compare it to a company that suddenly is not selling anything and has no more income.”

While the system is helping cover the lost income for full-time staff, freelance mechanics, soigneurs, and others that work with teams on daily contracts find themselves in a particularly difficult spot at the moment without being able to claim the same benefits.

For now, riders continue to be paid as normal.

“They are still training and preparing for the matches. If this situation lasts 5 months, then that may be different,” a Circus-Wanty Gobert spokesman told Sporza. “But that is not yet the case.”

Het Laatste news reports that Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Lotto-Soudal, and Alpecin-Fenix have not yet needed to turn to the unemployment system to cover shortfalls, while according to Sporza, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise is looking into the possibility.

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