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Qhubeka-NextHash makes direct plea for backers, Premier Tech in holding pattern

Team Principal Doug Ryder makes direct plea for backers while Premier Tech said it needs 'more time' to finalize 2022 deal with new team.

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Qhubeka-NextHash continues its quest to be part of the sport’s top tier in 2022, and made a direct plea for backers.

The team confirmed Friday that it has been forced to delay its application to the WorldTour for next season as its sponsor crisis deepens.

“Today we are not in a position to submit our initial application for our UCI WorldTour license for next year to the sport’s governing body,” team principal Doug Ryder said in a media release Friday.

Ryder confirmed to VeloNews earlier this month that crypto-currency platform NextHash as part of its multi-year agreement would not be a title sponsor of the African-registered squad in 2022, and that the team’s riders have been freed of contractual obligations.

Officials said the team continues to hold its WorldTour license and is still working to finalize its finances ahead of the 2022 season.

“We are actively engaged with potential partners, and our current partners, as we work to secure our future for 2022,” Ryder said.

The South African team manager closed his message Friday with a direct request for assistance.

“We are completely unique across the sporting landscape as a purpose-led organization that during the course of our decade-long partnership with Qhubeka has seen our team raise over $6 million for the charity, and in the process changed thousands of lives,” Ryder said.

“We remain confident that our story is not complete, our journey will carry on, to continue to change lives through bicycles.”

“If you, or any of your business network, want to partner with our team and keep changing lives, please contact us. Thank you for your support.”

Premier Tech in holding pattern

Friday’s announcement came the same day that Premier Tech, the Canadian company that exited its deal with Astana this season as a title sponsor, said it is still considering its sponsorship options for 2022.

The company announced Friday that it “decided to give itself more time before finalizing its return in the peloton with a World Tour team,” a statement read.

“At this moment, we have taken the decision to take a step back for the time being to assess all our options before coming back to the peloton,” said Jean Bélanger, president and chief executive officer of Premier Tech, in a press release.

Premier Tech confirmed its exit from Astana in August, and was shopping around a possible deal with another WorldTour team for 2022.

Bélanger said in an interview with a Canadian newspaper said it had hoped to finalize a deal for 2022 by the end of September, and that he was considering suitors from several teams.

Sources said possible deals with a few WorldTour teams did not materialize.

The recent arrivals to Israel Start-Up Nation of Jakob Fuglsang and Hugo Houlé, two riders linked to Premier Tech via Astana, raised expectations of a possible deal with the Israeli-backed team, but officials were not immediately available for comment.

Premier Tech said despite its departure from Astana that it “did not mark the end of Premier Tech’s presence in world cycling but rather opened the door to discussions with many World Tour teams from various countries.”