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The Qhubeka-NextHash WorldTour team will fold at the end of this year.
In a statement Friday, the team confirmed that it had not been able to find a new sponsor to keep the team afloat for 2022.
While the WorldTour squad will cease, the Continental program will continue into next year to “offer a platform for talent from Africa to progress to the very highest level.”
“On Thursday I sent an internal message to our staff and riders to tell them the news. It was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life. The responses have been so emotional and supportive,” team principal Doug Ryder said. “It gave me such faith and belief that what we have done here is truly unique; when you work in an environment that has a bigger purpose and impacts others positively then it no longer feels like work.
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“We’ve seen that spirit – Ubuntu – firmly take hold this year and extend beyond our team into our fan base and into the media; so brilliantly documented in Rouleur magazine after Victor Campenaerts’ stage victory at the Giro d’Italia. We rose as Africa’s team from South Africa, to include all of Africa; from road cycling to mountain biking to women’s cycling and finally focusing on taking an African-registered road team to the Tour de France.”
Ryder launched a public please for sponsors in October as it sought to keep the team going amid financial issues. While the team had hoped to race in 2022, it told contracted riders that they were free to search for new teams.
Several riders, including Victor Campenaerts and Mauro Schmid, had found new contracts, but Domenico Pozzovivo, Sean Bennett, and Sergio Henao are all without rides for 2022.
The team was unable to submit its WorldTour application by the initial October 31 deadline and it was later refused a license by the UCI. At the time, Ryder was still hopeful of securing the funds needed.
However, the search is officially over and the team will not be in the peloton from next year.
The South African squad was launched in 2007, progressing from a Continental team to the WorldTour in 2016.
It was unique within the bunch with a charity as its primary sponsor for much of its time in the peloton. Through the Qhubeka charity, the team handed out bikes to hundreds of disadvantaged people in Africa.
Among its biggest successes were Gerald Ciolek’s surprise win at Milano-Sanremo, multiple stage wins at the Tour de France with Mark Cavendish, Steven Cummings, and Edvald Boasson Hagen, and the Giro d’Italia with Omar Fraile, Mauro Schmid, and Campenaerts, among others.
Despite the end of the WorldTour team, Ryder hopes to still have an impact in cycling and on the Qhubeka charity.
“Team Qhubeka is still moving forwards, our Continental team will be racing, and we have other exciting projects and ideas that will see us continue to use our platform to change lives with bicycles,” Ryder said. “Our work with the Qhubeka Charity has truly inspired us and will continue to do so. It should be a story that inspires all of cycling and beyond, and we want you to be a part of our journey.
“To all of our former, current, and future partners I want to thank you for your faith and belief in what we want to achieve. One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that we’ve always given our absolute best, and you have our commitment to do so in the future.”
Though Campenaerts has moved on from the team, he has roped in several top riders to auction off their jerseys to support the Qhubeka charity. Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert, and Mathieu van der Poel, and many more, will sell off one of their jerseys to raise funds.