Team Qhubeka Assos have announced a five-year deal with a new co-sponsor in the form of NextHash, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency investment platform, with the team to be known as Qhubeka NextHash for the upcoming Tour de France.
With the new agreement comes a new kit design in partnership with British fashion brand Burberry for the Tour, which kicks off in Brest on Saturday.
The South African team, which was on the brink of collapse last season, was saved when cycling clothing company Assos stepped as co-sponsor in late November. A number of high-profile riders had already left by that point, including Ben O'Connor and Michael Valgren, but the team now looks safe for several years to come having reached an agreement with NextHash.
NextHash joins the team as a cryptocurrency and blockchain partner. Team boss Doug Ryder hailed the partnership, which he said would enable the team to develop new, interactive approaches to engage with its fans.
"I am incredibly happy to welcome NextHash, our official cryptocurrency and blockchain partner, into our family of partnerships and into our team name for the remainder of 2021," Ryder said.
"The whole sports industry is moving towards a digital universe and this long-term partnership will help us innovate and develop new and interactive approaches to engage with our fans.
"We look forward to being ahead of the curve with the latest technologies to offer our fan community new experiences."
The news comes a month after one of the team's star riders, Belgian Victor Campenaerts, said that the team needed a new sponsor to keep going in 2022 and beyond.
The team's partnership with luxury fashion brand Burberry, meanwhile, came later on Thursday as the team unveiled a new look jersey at the Tour de France team presentation.
"I am so happy to welcome Burberry as an official partner to our team, a brand built on pioneering luxury clothing for the outdoors," Ryder said in a team press release.
"The beautiful Thomas Burberry monogram will feature on the jerseys of our team as they push the boundaries and go beyond what they think is possible in Tour de France and the rest of the racing calendar this season.
"Our mutual passion for diversity and inclusion through the team and the Qhubeka charity is a strong connection, and we look forward to telling some impactful stories together."
Qhubeka NextHash's squad for the Tour de France doesn't include a general classification threat, instead bringing together a number of stage hunters as the team seeks to add to their six stage wins from 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Giro d'Italia stage winner Campenaerts will be joined in France by Simon Clarke, Michael Gogl, Max Walscheid, Sean Bennett, Sergio Henao, Carlos Barbero, and the first black South African to race the Tour, Nicolas Dlamini.
I am incredibly happy to welcome the NextHash Group into our family of partnerships and into our team name for the remainder of 2021 as our official cryptocurrency and blockchain partner. Lots of opportunities to come. https://t.co/ajyHKGgZH0June 24, 2021
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