Coronavirus: Pro cycling sweating on Tour de France cancellation

Professional cycling is facing the possibility of financial ruin, unless the Tour de France goes ahead this year.

The COVID-19 crisis has already hit New Zealand riders in the pocket and it could get much worse if the sport's biggest race is cancelled.

The country's leading cyclists have welcomed the rescheduled World Tour season, which sees almost a year's worth of racing crammed into three months.

"The fact of the matter is that for the sport to survive, the races simply have to happen," said Kiwi rider Patrick Bevin.

The Tour de France, above all, is the one event the cycling world is sweating on.

"It really holds the key to the whole future of what the sport looks like at the moment and whether it goes ahead or not," said NZ's Julian Dean.

That's because professional cycling is funded purely by sponsorship, with no big broadcast deals or ticket revenue.

"We don't have any of that," Kiwi pro George Bennett added. "We don't get to touch the TV rights. We just have sponsors who need publicity."

And that publicity typically comes in the month of July in France.

"The sponsors probably get 60 to 70 percent of their coverage just in one event."

George Bennett's Jumbo-Visma team has coped with the lockdown better than most, but a number of his compatriots, including Bevin have had their wages cut.

"We were one of the first teams to go through that," said Bennett. "I don't think we'll be the last."

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