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Campenaerts still searching for team for 2021

Victor Campenaerts (NTT) during the stage 14 time trial at the 2020 Giro d’Italia
Victor Campenaerts (NTT) during the stage 14 time trial at the 2020 Giro d’Italia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The reigning men's Hour Record holder, Victor Campenaerts, has told the Belgian media that he's still looking for a team for next season, and is ready to make "a very significant compromise" when it comes to his salary, with the increasing likelihood that his NTT Pro Cycling outfit will shutter its doors at the end of the year.

Telecommunications company NTT announced in September that it would not continue its sponsorship of the WorldTour squad after 2020, and while team principal Doug Ryder and team manager Bjarne Riis have made efforts to find a replacement, time is running out, with Riis telling Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet this week that "it does not look too good".

Ryder, however, appeared to still be optimistic as recently as last month, according to Campenaerts.

"He visited us at the Giro d'Italia, and in a conversation with me he said that he still hopes to find a new sponsor, but it's already November, and there's still no news," Campenaerts told Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday.

"I am aiming elsewhere," the 29-year-old Belgian time-trial specialist added. "I've had some interesting conversations with different teams, but nothing's yet materialised. It's not that I'm too expensive, either, because the financial aspect hasn't yet been discussed with those teams."

Despite that contact with some teams, Campenaerts said that he still has "nothing – really nothing" concrete for 2021.

"By the way, I am prepared to make a very significant compromise on my wages. I think that's going to be necessary, which is fine as long as I can remain a professional with a good team. It's not the intention to pay off our house in one year," he said of the new property he's apparently recently purchased in Gavere, Belgium, with his partner, swimmer Fanny Lecluyse.

Campenaerts admitted that this coronavirus-interrupted 2021 season has not been his best, with the former two-time European time trial champion having been denied in various tests against the clock by an ever-improving Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers, with the Italian also winning the TT title at this year's World Championships.

"It wasn't my best season," Campenaerts said, "but without Ganna, I would have won a time trial at both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro. Then we would have been talking about what a super year I'd had."

Het Nieuwsblad also speculated that Jonathan Vaughters' EF Pro Cycling team may still have spaces available, and that the US WorldTour team's "strong time trial culture" could make it a good fit for Campenaerts.

Of his NTT teammates, Australian climber Ben O'Connor has already confirmed a move to AG2R Citroën for next season, while it was announced last week that South African road race champion Ryan Gibbons will move to UAE Team Emirates next year.