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Qhubeka-NextHash has been refused a WorldTour license for 2022.
The South African team has been struggling to find a new sponsor for next season and it missed the initial deadline in October to apply for a license.
Team manager Doug Ryder has been vocal about his search for a new sponsor to keep the team afloat, but it appears to have been unsuccessful.
The UCI published a list of the teams that have been awarded licenses for next season with the Qhubkea-NextHash being refused a spot in the WorldTour. It has not been offered a ProTeam license either, which could mean that the team folds at the end of this season.
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Should the team close its doors at the end of the year, it would leave several riders without a contract for next year, including American rider Sean Bennett, Domenico Pozzovivo, and Sergio Henao.
Several riders, who were under contract with the squad, have already signed up for other teams. Victor Campenaerts is headed to Lotto Soudal, Mauro Schmid is going to Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, and Lasse Norman Hansen has signed for Uno-X.
“We have noted the UCI’s press release today in which we have been refused the registration of a WorldTour license for 2022,” a Tweet from the team said. “We remain committed to our purpose of changing lives through bicycles. We will be making no further comment at this stage.”
We have noted the UCI’s press release today in which we have been refused the registration of a WorldTour licence for 2022.
We remain committed to our purpose of changing lives through bicycles.
We will be making no further comment at this stage.
— Team Qhubeka NextHash (@QhubekaAssos) December 9, 2021
All 18 other members of this year’s WorldTour have secured licenses for the 2022 season.
2022 Women’s WorldTour licenses
Meanwhile, all five new applicants for the Women’s WorldTour have secured a spot in the top division for next season. EF Education-Tibco-SVB, Human Powered Health (formerly Rally Cycling), Roland Cogeas Edelweiss, Jumbo-Visma, and Uno-X have all been awarded WorldTour licenses.
Meanwhile, Alé BTC Ljubljana will officially be known as UAE Team from next year after the UAE takeover of the squad was approved by the UCI Licence Commission.
It brings the number of Women’s WorldTeams up to 14 for 2022, one fewer than the UCI had hoped when it launched the category in 2020. No additional teams applied for the final spot, which means that there will be one more place up for grabs ahead of the 2023 season.
2022 Men’s ProTeam licenses
In the men’s ProTeam category, Gianni Savio’s team has been awarded a license after missing the initial application deadline in October. The Italian squad will be known as Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli from next season.
There are two fewer ProTeams for 2022 compared to this year with French squad Delko folding back in October, while the Vini Zabu team has not been awarded a license. There was speculation about the future of the Italian team after its title sponsor left and joined Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert for next year.
Under current rules, some ProTeams will earn an automatic spot in certain WorldTour events due to their position in the rankings at the end of the season. As the top two squads, Alpecin-Fenix and Arkea-Samsic will get an invitation to all WorldTour events. Unlike WorldTeams, they are able to refuse the invitation.
Meanwhile, Peter Sagan’s new team TotalEnergies will gain an automatic spot in all WorldTour one-day races next year. It means that Sagan will be assured of a ride at most of the classics, including Milano-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix.
The French squad will need to apply for an invitation to WorldTour stage races, such as grand tours, but with Sagan in the team’s stable, it’s hard to imagine any organizers refusing an application.