Spanish Zaaf team may be forced to use bank guarantee after not paying riders for three months

French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot says she's 'exhausted' after already suffering stroke and collapse of B&B Hotels team.

Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images

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The Spanish Continental squad Zaaf may be forced to use its bank guarantee to pay its riders’ salaries after failing to so during the first three months of the season.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot confirmed that the riders are in discussions with the owners of the team to help secure the missing salary payments.

According to the French champion, the team is still waiting to gain access to the funds it needs, but it may not come soon enough after riders have gone three months without money.

“There are two options. The first one is that they pay us, and everything can go smooth again. And the second choice is that we have to call the bank guarantee from the Spanish Federation, which is, in my opinion, what’s going to happen, because they are telling us that they cannot pay us before two weeks. And none of us can wait two more weeks,” Cordon-Ragot told VeloNews.

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Rumors of the financial strife emerged over the weekend with journalists Charles Marsault and Raul Banqueri reporting on the issue. Riders have been reluctant to go into too much detail as lawyers work to resolve the issue, which is hoped will come by next week.

Despite the issues, Cordon-Ragot says she bares no ill feelings toward anybody within the team and adds that the riders and staff have rallied together to resolve the issue.

“We’ve been all together talking a lot about what we should do, and we’ve been talking a lot with the staff of the team and trying to find a solution. To be honest, I have no anger against anyone because I also know that the staff from the team are really trying. It’s not like they don’t want to pay us it’s just like they have problems like logistics problems,” she said in a call Friday. “Of course, they want the team to go on and they want the team to be the best in the world. It’s just that we are facing a problem of organization and we need to solve it.

“It’s really the whole team who wants to get out of this situation. It’s not only the riders. So, it’s also why we are not really angry at anyone because we know that every day they are trying to find solutions. It’s not they don’t want to pay us, they want but it’s just at the moment impossible because they cannot because of a logistic issue and that’s the most frustrating thing for everyone.”

Zaaf has been one of the prominent teams so far this season and currently sits sixth in the UCI rankings. Cordon-Ragot says that the financial issues have overshadowed what she believes is a strong team spirit.

“We like each other and we’ve been working really well until now. We have good results and if the atmosphere was not that good, we won’t have the results we have,” she said. “We are the sixth team in the world. It’s pretty incredible. The boss of the team was super surprised, he didn’t expect that at all. It’s been a bit submerged by what happened at the beginning of the season. I was not expecting this at all and the mix of all these things happening altogether was a bit of a casino in the end.”

Another setback

Audrey Cordon-Ragot at Le Samyn
Audrey Cordon-Ragot at Le Samyn (Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images)

For Cordon-Ragot, the troubles at Zaaf are the latest in a line of setbacks she has suffered over the last six months. Shortly before the world championships last year, she suffered a stroke. Meanwhile, she was supposed to sign with the new B&B Hotels women’s team, but that dramatically fell through in November.

The Zaaf team came to the rescue of several riders after the demise of the French squad and Cordon-Ragot had hoped she was through the other side. It has taken a toll on her, but she is trying to focus on the goals she has.

“It’s too much. To be honest, I’m so tired,” Cordon-Ragot said. “Now when I talk about it, I’m laughing at just being so exhausted. I start to doubt humanity, to be honest, why would you promise things if you know that it’s not going to happen? I don’t know. I don’t feel it’s fair for every one of us who comes from B&B, and me coming also from a stroke.

“I just think my head is going to explode again. If I didn’t like cycling, and if I didn’t have the beginning of the season I had, I would have stopped cycling, to be honest. But I still believe that I can do the Olympics at home. And that’s really, that’s what in my mind as motivation.”

Cordon-Ragot is also taking motivation in her recovery from the stroke last September and she can still race her bike when doctors initially told her she would not be able to.

“It’s hard again, but I’m always thinking ‘come on Audrey, there are worse things. You almost died some months ago, so just keep on going.’ If some month ago, I would have thought about now and maybe you won’t be riding your bike, and you will be so desperate and now you can ride like fully 100 percent and healthy,” she said. “There is no reason to stay at home and to sit on the couch. don’t really think about what’s going on, because if I start thinking that I just cry, I stay in my bed. It’s not the Audrey I want to see.”

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