Danish riders Hansen and Carbel drop from WorldTour level as contracts not renewed

Jesper Hansen (Cofidis) waves to the crowd ahead of stage 13 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia
Jesper Hansen (Cofidis) waves to the crowd ahead of stage 13 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

While Danish cycling has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in recent seasons – led by the likes of Trek-Segafredo rider Mads Pedersen's victory at the 2019 World Championships road race and Søren Kragh Andersen's two stage wins at this year's Tour de France – the WorldTour is set to lose two Danes ahead of next season, with neither Jesper Hansen nor Michael Carbel having their contracts renewed with Cofidis and NTT, respectively.

Back in March, at the start of the coronavirus crisis, Hansen said that he hoped to race as much as possible in order to try to earn himself a contract renewal with Cofidis for 2021. But despite a racing programme in the second half of the season that included the Tour de Pologne, Il Lombardia and the Giro d'Italia – with the 30-year-old climber performing well at all three races – a contract extension was not forthcoming, and the French WorldTour team sent out a tweet on Sunday, thanking Hansen for his past two seasons at the team and wishing him luck for the future.

However, according to Ekstrabladet last week, Danish ProTeam Riwal Securitas are ready to hand Hansen a contract – providing the team can first secure its future for the 2021 season.

"Right now, Riwal is my only opportunity to continue as a professional," Hansen told the Danish newspaper. "There aren't really any alternatives."

Despite the requirement to drop down a level from a WorldTour squad to a ProTeam, Hansen said that it could be exciting to ride for a Danish team again, and hoped that the money could be found to sign him.

"I'd join them no matter what, as it's good for Danish cycling that there's a Danish professional team," Hansen said. "It's good for young Danish riders that there's a team keeping an eye out for them. And even if the team continues without me, I'll be able to find work as a bike mechanic, which is what I was happy doing before I became a pro rider."

Riwal sports director Steffen Kromann added: "Providing we have a team for 2021, we'd very much like to have Jesper riding for us. That would be a perfect match: he's a team player and has learned to fend for himself on the WorldTour.

"We've talked, and I've been completely honest with him," Kromann continued. "We're interested, but we just can't promise anything. If he finds anything else, then he should definitely go for it, but otherwise there could be an opening here."

Meanwhile, Michael Carbel is apparently ready to end his career as a pro rider after not being offered a contract extension by NTT. The young Dane joined the South African WorldTour squad ahead of the 2020 season, but has been unable to convince team management that he should be retained, and seems to have given up looking elsewhere.

"I'd actually considered making the decision to stop, but, until now, I'd allowed myself to keep the door open, just in case," Carbel told TV2, according to EkstraBladet at the end of last week. "But now the team has told me that there's no room for me, and so the door's closed.

"I know only too well that I haven't been able to win any races at the highest level, or made myself indispensable," he said. "Especially not right now, when there are 100 other riders all looking for a new contract."

Carbel rode the 2018 season for French ProTeam Fortuneo-Samsic – now Arkéa-Samsic – before dropping back to Continental-level Danish domestic squad Team Waoo in 2019, but could now be about to stop his career at the age of just 25.

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