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The Bigla-Katusha team is facing an uncertain future as both of its title sponsors have pulled their funding, according to a team announcement on Friday.
“The Team Manager received a letter from its main title partner Bigla, indicating that the company wishes to withdraw 100% of its payments to the team,” the team said in a statement. “The team’s other title partner, Katusha, has already declined to pay the team any funds for the past month.”
Bigla has been a financial backer for the squad for more than a decade. Katusha, on the other hand, came on board this season, moving into the women’s peloton after its title sponsorship of the men’s Katusha team ended.
Formerly known variously as the Bigla and Cervélo-Bigla teams, the squad has finished the last several seasons in the top 10 of the UCI women’s team rankings. This year, the team had already collected a national road title (courtesy of New Zealand’s Niamh Fisher-Black) and two other UCI wins.
Now, however, a lack of funding puts the “existence of the squad in doubt,” according to the team’s statement.
“To see such a well-recognizable and successful team, with 200 podiums to its name since 2015, in this difficult situation is very disappointing, not only for the squad, but also for its partners, supporters and cycling fans in general,” Bigla-Katusha said.
“The team hopes that both title partners will be willing to undertake further discussions with the team to negotiate the best way forward and ensure the squad’s survival.”
Katusha Sports released a statement following the news, noting that “Katusha’s manufacturing is all within Europe, and unfortunately due to COVID-19, most of the company’s factories were shuttered, along with the French-based dispatch and e-commerce center.” As such, “Due to its current financial situation, many commitments of the company had to be reviewed and the financial sponsorships with professional teams are unfortunately in jeopardy for the coming months.”
“In particular, we know this situation has caused particular stress on our women’s team: Bigla-Katusha,” read the statement. “Yet in whatever avenue we are forced to take, we will continue our dedication to these riders and this team as much as feasible. We all know 2020 is going to be a difficult season for cycling, but we have been actively looking for potential new sponsors and partners for the future, and we will do everything in our power to support the riders on the team in every aspect possible.”