The future of the NTT Pro Cycling team has been up in the air since the spring but now that team principal Doug Ryder has been able to secure the support of Assos to keep the team's WorldTour license, Victor Campenaerts can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The Hour Record holder told Sporza that he the uncertainty has been stressful.
"I will remain a pro in a WorldTour team, which is a real relief," Campenaerts told Sporza, confirming he will stay with the African team that will be known as Qhubeka-Assos in 2021.
"The Giro d'Italia in October was my last race of the season. When you are in it there is little time to worry, because you have to perform. As soon as that race ends, you go from a very busy life to a stress-free life, but then the uncertainty about the contract comes and you start thinking a lot. That was difficult."
"I was able to change my mind a bit by moving and doing some chores, but I'm very happy that I now have certainty for 2021."
The future of the team was in doubt after technology company NTT opted to renew its sponsorship in September. Bjarne Riis and his business partner Lars Seier Christensen had intended to take part ownership of the team but the plan fell through in the wake of their failed sponsor search.
After Riis' departure, Ryder secured Assos' vital support and bolstered links with the bicycle charity Qhubeka to cement the future of the team.
However, the support came too late to retain some of the team's top talent, with Ben O'Connor heading to AG2R-Citröen, Roman Kreuziger to Gazprom-Rusvelo, Edvald Boasson Hagen to Total Direct Energie, Michael Valgren to EF Pro Cycling and Louis Meintjes to Circus-Wanty Gobert.
Other departures include Ben King (Rally Cycling), Samuel Battistella, Stefan De Bod, and Matteo Sobrero (Astana), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo), Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates), and Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X).
The squad now face a massive rebuilding project with only a handful of riders including Campenaerts secured for 2021.
Max Walscheid, Domenico Pozzovivo, Andreas Stokbro, Michael Gogl, Dylan Sunderland, and Victor Campenaerts will remain with the team for two years, while Carlos Barbero has been given a one-year extension. Giacomo Nizzolo, who won the European and Italian championships and stages of Paris-Nice and the Tour Down Under this season, is expected to stay, with an announcement likely soon after the Italian signed a contract on Sunday without revealing the name of the team.
Today's best Black Friday deals
Today's cycling-related highlights from the Black Friday sales. For even more, view our guide to the best Black Friday bike deals where you'll find on all things cycling, including bikes, helmets, clothing and more.
Today's best deals: USA
- Jenson USA: 44% off Castelli Pro rain jacket
- Competitive Cyclist: 60% off Assos S.J.Blitzfeder rain jacket
- Rei: Cannondale Topstone Ultegra RX 2
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