The UCI and the Spanish Cycling Federation have confirmed to Cyclingnews that they have launched investigations into the Zaaf Cycling Team following allegations that the management has not paid salaries to some of its riders and staff.
The federations seek to clarify the allegations through their investigations upon learning that some of the contracted riders and staff had not been compensated for their work completed for the previous three months.
“The UCI has received communications reporting alleged issues with the UCI Women’s Continental Team Zaaf. The UCI is in the process of clarifying the situation with the riders, the team and the national federation responsible for the team registration and shall ensure that the applicable rules and procedures are complied with,” the UCI wrote in reply to questions from Cyclingnews.
The Spanish Cycling Federation has confirmed to Cyclingnews that if the riders and staff are not properly compensated, it will seek to execute and draw on the team’s bank guarantee on March 31, 2024.
The Spanish-registered Zaaf Cycling Team stepped in to hire some of the riders left without a contract following the collapse of the B&B Hotels-KTM squad last December, bringing in riders Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Maggie Coles-Lyster and Heidi Franz on last-minute contract deals.
The team then announced a roster of 15 that also included Lucie Journier, Michaela Drummond, Elizabeth Stannard, Eva Anguela, Danielle De Francesco, Lucía García, Mareille Meijering, Nikola Nosková, Marta Romance, Debora Silvestri, Emanuela Zanetti and Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed.
The team is managed by owner Riad Belatreche and named after his grandfather, late cyclist Abdel-Kader Zaaf, who raced in the 1950s. It began as a club-level team in 2022. Now in its second season, it has upgraded to UCI Continental team status, with its service course based in Spain.
Cyclingnews has contacted the Zaaf Cycling Team to clarify the team’s financial situation, but the team has not responded by the time this article was published.
The Spanish Cycling Federation has said that it is aware of the allegations that have been lodged against the Zaaf Cycling Team, confirming that it has received documentation, which it will utilise to show proof that some of the team’s riders and staff have not been paid.
“If the team finally does not pay its workers (staff + riders), the Spanish Cycling Federation will execute the bank guarantee on March 31, 2024, as established by the regulations. This bank guarantee has an amount to cover the three months’ salary of all team workers,” the federation said.
Zaaf is in its first season with a UCI Continental Team licence and, therefore, supplied the sport governing body with a bank guarantee when they registered for the season.
The bank guarantee is a percentage of a team’s budget, and those funds are put into a blocked account that can be used by the federation to protect the riders’ rights and can be utilised if the team does not comply with their obligations.
If the bank guarantee is opened, it could cover up to three months of wages and offers some protection to riders and staff in the event they are not paid.
The Zaaf Cycling Team has placed in the top-10 at 14 events this year so far, with Zayed Ahmed winning double national titles at Egypt’s National Championships.
They started the season at the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Road Race and also raced at the UAE Tour Women and a series of events in Spain; Setmana Valenciana, Vuelta CV Feminas and Women Pro Costa de Almeria.
The team has been competing in a full calendar at Omloop van het Hageland, Le Samyn des Dames, and Nokere Koerse and was expected to line up at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.