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International Cycling Union takes drastic action amid financial ‘crisis’

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GENEVA (AP) — The International Cycling Union took “some drastic action” on Thursday to cut costs amid a revenue shortfall from hundreds of events canceled or postponed during the coronavirus pandemic, including the Tokyo Olympics.

Cycling’s financial outlook is among the bleakest revealed by an Olympic sport’s governing body since the Tokyo Games were rescheduled to 2021.

UCI president David Lappartient and other managers have reduced salaries and allowances, and all 130 employees at its Swiss headquarters and training center are on full or partial furlough.

“Our international federation is going through a crisis that we haven’t experienced since the Second World War,” Lappartient said.

The 28 core Summer Games sports were due to share at least $540 million from the IOC in Tokyo Olympic revenues.

The UCI reported getting 25 million Swiss francs ($25.75 million) from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. It could have expected the same or more in 2020 for organizing 22 medal events in road and track events, mountain biking and BMX.

Now the UCI warns the one-year delay in Tokyo “will lead to a considerable loss of earnings.”

“We need to anticipate both a possible postponement — to 2021 — of the payment of Olympic revenues initially expected in the second semester of 2020, and a probable reduction of the sum paid to the International Federations,” the cycling body said.

The IOC said last week it was too early to comment on possible financial plans with the governing bodies.

For the UCI, hosting and registration fees paid by race organizers including world championships added up to 45% of its 181 million Swiss francs ($187 million) revenue from 2015-18, according to its most recent accounts.

The UCI said it will reimburse registration fees paid for races later canceled. It has received “more than 650 requests” to postpone or cancel events through August.

However, the Tour de France is still due to start June 27 and the Sept. 20-27 road world championships, racing past UCI headquarters in Aigle, “would appear to be safe.”

The UCI’s financial reserves — about 45 million Swiss francs ($46.5 million) in its accounts for 2018 — are also taking a hit.

“Our asset portfolio has suffered from the effects of the pandemic on the financial markets, combined with the collapse of oil prices,” the governing body said.

The UCI is likely to be eligible for financial help, including interest-free loans, in an emergency program approved last month by the Swiss federal government.

MORE: Most decorated U.S. female Olympian on front line of coronavirus fight

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Cycling companies switch gears to produce face masks

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Several manufacturers who usually produce cycling equipment are switching their production facilities to make face masks to use during the coronavirus outbreak.

Santini, an Italian company that produces the rainbow jerseys worn by world champions, says its prototype of polyester fabric is washable and can be used up to 10 times.

Other companies shifting production focus to personal protective equipment (PPE) include Kitsbow Cycling Apparel, a California company now making face masks and shields, and Orucase, a California company that says it can produce 500,000 masks per week for use in the U.S. and Mexico.

North Carolina company Industry Nine is working with Kitsbow on PPE and hopes to make its machinery available to produce ventilator parts once regulatory hurdles are cleared.

USA Cycling has pledged to donate 50% of its membership sales to support the companies’ efforts.

Other sports companies who are now making medical equipment include:

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Chloe Dygert breaks world record, keeps perfect record with another world title

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Chloe Dygert extended her perfect world track cycling championships record with another world record, winning the individual pursuit in Berlin on Saturday.

Dygert, an Olympic team pursuit silver medalist, has entered seven career track worlds events and won all of them — all individual and team pursuits. The individual pursuit is not on the Olympic program.

In Saturday’s final, Dygert crushed German veteran Lisa Brennauer by 6.282 seconds, lowering her own world record for the second time on the day. She clocked 3 minutes, 16.937 seconds over 3000m.

“Last year I kind of had a goal to set [3:15] or a [3:16],” said Dygert, who missed last year’s worlds after a May 2018 concussion from a road race crash. “Today, I really wanted to get a 14, so I’m a little bummed, but I mean, to be able to win, is always good.”

Her career goal is to break 3:10 in the event.

“I’ve only been on the track for a short time now,” said Dygert, who won the world title in the road time trial on Sept. 24 to qualify for the Olympics on the road. “There’s some good gains to be made.”

Earlier in qualifying, Dygert broke her world record by clocking 3:17.283. She took nearly three seconds off her previous mark from 2018. Dygert has lowered countrywoman Sarah Hammer‘s 2010 record four times by a combined five seconds

Track worlds conclude Sunday.

NBC Olympics senior researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report from Berlin.

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