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Assos waiting on Ryder’s desperate sponsor search before committing to Qhubeka NextHash

The Qhubeka Nexthash team
The Qhubeka Nexthash team (Image credit: Getty Images)

Time is almost up for the future of Qhubeka NextHash with no news of a team-saving title sponsor as the management frantically attempts to keep the WorldTour entity together for 2022.

The UCI have extended the deadline for applications until later this month in order to give manager Doug Ryder the maximum time possible to find the needed funds, and while the South African has his back against the wall he at least has the tentative support of Assos, with the clothing brand keen to add their financial support should a suitable title partner be found.

Assos came to the rescue of the team in 2020 and ploughed millions into the squad at the last minute in order to keep the operation afloat. The clothing brand were then replaced as the team's secondary sponsor on the eve of the Tour de France with NextHash coming on board as part of a reported five-year plan.

No news has been released as to whether the cryptocurrency company will be with the team next year, but the squad struggled to pay rider and staff wages in the summer and Cyclingnews learned in the autumn that several other smaller sponsors were asked to submit their final payments earlier than scheduled in order to help the team's finances.

The majority of the team's biggest riders have all left for new teams but Ryder would still be able to fill a roster if a major sponsor is found in time.

Assos are not in a position to rescue the team as they did in 2020, and they have had little communication with Ryder in recent weeks, but they do want to see the team pull through. At this point, Assos would like to see the calibre of any potential title sponsor before committing their investment.

"The team are focused on trying to get some cash partners. They ultimately need multi-millions of cash to run it but we don't know where they are with that right now," a spokesperson for Assos told Cyclingnews.

"They're desperately trying to pull something together but Assos are likely to want to remain involved. We like the programme, the affiliation and we're partners with Qhubeka anyway. We'll do some things with them next year regardless of whether the team continues, because it's a natural fit. 

"We're not committed, though, because we want to see what the team is and who the partners are, what the ambitions of the team are, and then we'll see what comes together and if it makes sense to partner with them or not.

"We're holding back and waiting but we're hoping that it comes together and that it's something that we want to support. Right now, it's all hypothetical and we're not going to commit until we know what it is. Right now, there's no programme and it's not clear that the team will exist.

"It matters to us who the partner are and what their aspirations are, and what they want to do. We'll wait and see and then decide if it's the right programme for us to be part of, or not. We'll hold back and wait and see. Right now, there's nothing to judge."

Assos have no firm deadline in place when it comes to their potential support of the team but they do recognise that time is running short and that if Ryder is unable to solidify the team's future by the end of the calendar year it could prove to be too late. There are logistical issues, from clothing to rider rosters, along with the financial commitments relating to other marketing campaigns.

"We do have some other things in the business going on that could influence our ability to be part of this programme," the spokesperson told Cyclingnews.

"There are other marketing initiatives that we are working which could influence things but not necessarily. There's no set time frame. Clearly the longer it takes the more difficult it is but we're certainly not setting any deadlines on time. If they don't pull things together by the end of this year, then you don't have riders, you don't have clothing made.

"There are some issues practically. They're right up against the wall for a range of reasons but Assos is the least of their problems. We're a long-term partner who wants to support the programme as long as the programme is healthy and meets our aspirations. We're here to help, not set more deadlines."

Cyclingnews reached out to Qhubeka NextHash several times but the team did not comment.

The UCI simply told Cyclingnews that: "The UCI World Tour license is still ongoing, the UCI will communicate the list of the selected teams by the end of December."

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.