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Bjarne Riis on sponsor search to replace NTT: 'It is difficult'

Giro d'Italia 2020 - 103th Edition - 4th stage Catania - Villafranca Tirrena 140 km - 06/10/2020 - NTT Pro Cycling - photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2020
NTT Pro Cycling at start of stage 4 of 2020 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The future of the NTT Pro Cycling WorldTour squad is still up in the air as manager Bjarne Riis told Sporza at the Giro d'Italia and the search to replace the technology company as title sponsor has been difficult.

When asked if the team has a future, Riis replied, "I don't know to be honest. I hope the team has a future because it deserves to have a future."

Riis and his long-time business partner Lars Seier Christensen were due to take part ownership of the team, penning a 'letter of intent', but as of the beginning of September, Doug Ryder was still full owner of the team, according to the Danish press.

It is unclear which of the parties is involved in the sponsorship search, but Riis said, "we are working on it and it is difficult. We have to admit that. I can't tell you a lot more."

The team attempted to extend the deal with NTT, which had acquired Dimension Data in 2010 but sponsored the team under the latter name since 2016. During the Tour de France, Riis expressed confidence he could find a sponsor, but by the end of the Tour, Ryder gave the team the freedom to search elsewhere for contracts.

Of the squad, only Domenico Pozzovivo, Victor Campenaerts and neo-pros Matteo Sobrero, Dylan Sunderland and Samuele Battistella are still under contract for 2021.

So far none of the riders have announced they would sign with other teams, although Victor Campenaerts had his doubts the team could find another sponsor and, with CCC Team folding, expressed concern that finding another team would be difficult without a good performance in the Giro d'Italia.

Riis said the team has continued the search to find other sponsors all year. 

"Along the way during the whole year we have been in contact with possible sponsors, but that doesn't mean there are any signs that things are going to happen. But we are still fighting and working for it."