The issues at Zaaf Cycling have taken their toll on star rider Audrey Cordon-Ragot. After a brutal off-season that saw the French national champion suffer a stroke, before having her secured 2023 team B&B Hotels collapse in early December. A late signing for Zaaf Cycling around the turn of the year offered a new chance for her to go into 2023 in a strong position. The new team joined with claims of a big budget of €4 million Euros but as it turned out in the last few weeks, the Spanish team hasn’t paid its riders so far this year.
The team was set to secure a wildcard invite to the Tour de France Femmes in July, in part by their late acquisition of the French champion and also Lucie Jounier too. The pair are now confirmed to have left the team, which lined up to the Tour of Flanders with a relatively weak team compared to the one that secured so many good results in early 2023.
Audrey Cordon-Ragot, in a piece with Le Telegramme, also took aim at the organisation levels at the team as well. She cited the low levels of staffing and that team being more like an amateur-level French team than the Women’s WorldTour team it aspired to be. The Spanish Federation stated it was likely to ask the UCI to use the bank guarantee to pay the riders on March 31st. There has been no public confirmation that this took place but it seems likely. That means riders should receive part of what they’re owed by the team in a month’s time. The team itself says that the money is in their account but that it is subject to an audit and therefore unable to action the money sat within it.
“After several reminders from me, race after race, I saw that nothing was progressing. However, I think I was patient. As the team was new, I was understanding, I told myself that they just needed a little time to get their bearings. And then, the financial worries led to other worries: at the level of the staff, we were understaffed. In terms of organisation, it was not even at the level of an amateur N1. At one point, I said stop.”Audrey Cordon-Ragot
The next steps for Cordon-Ragot are to sign for a new team, although if it’s a Women’s WorldTour one she won’t be able to race for them until June 1st. The rumour currently doing the rounds is that Human Powered Health is likely to come to an agreement to sign her. The team is on the cusp of relegation from the Women’s WorldTour and any points Audrey Cordon-Ragot could score for them before the end of the season would be of massive assistance. In the meantime, whilst waiting for June 1st, she will be able to race for French national teams in races like GP Morbihan and Bretagne Ladies Tour if the French Federation is able to find enough riders available to race.