Nizzolo stays with Qhubeka Assos

PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 26 Podium Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy Gold Medal European Champion Jersey Celebration during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Mens Elite a 17745km race from Plouay to Plouay UECcycling EuroRoad20 on August 26 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy earns road race Gold Medal and European Champion Jersey in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images)

European champion Giacomo Nizzolo has extended his stay with the NTT Pro Cycling team, putting pen to paper on a new deal after it was confirmed the team would continue in 2021 as Qhubeka-Assos.

The South African outfit, who have seen a number of high-profile riders leave in the period between NTT ending its sponsorship and Assos stepping in, described Nizzolo's renewal as "a major coup".

After a series of injury problems, the Italian sprinter has enjoyed a successful 2020 campaign, winning stages at the Tour Down Under and Paris-Nice towards the start of the year, then winning both the Italian and European road race titles once racing resumed in August. His season, however, ended in disappointment as he was forced to leave the Tour de France with a leg injury in the opening week.

"My decision to stay was because I really feel a part of this team and this project," Nizzolo said. "Qhubeka is an incredible organisation that enables lives to be changed through bicycles, it is something great. Two years ago I was in South Africa and watched on as kids received bikes, it was something very emotional that inspired me during the season, and across my life actually. It’s something that I will never forget.

"I’m really looking forward to race as soon as possible again as the European champion and as a part of this new chapter. I feel like the team believes in me 100 per cent, and they’ve created a project which is inspiring and gives me extra motivation; having teammates and staff believing that I’m a leader within the team is something that I really need to enable me to perform.”

Nizzolo, who joined the team in 2019, is set to be the team’s main sprinter for next year, targeting Milan-San Remo, where he finished fifth this year, as well as the Tour de France, with the Giro d’Italia also a possibility.

"I am so happy to have Giacomo continue with us into the future; he has achieved incredible victories this year like the Italian and European Championship titles which have been very special," said team principal Doug Ryder. 

"He’s been the perfect example of someone who has come into our organisation and through the support he’s received has shone through with his performances on the bike. We have really worked well together and we look forward to continue working hard and improving to be even better."

After losing Michael Valgren, Louis Meintjes, Ben O’Connor, and Ryan Gibbons, Nizzolo is the team’s first signing for 2021. They now have seven riders so far on their roster, with the team also confirming that Victor Campenaerts, Domenico Pozzovivo, Max Walscheid, Michael Gogl, Dylan Sunderland, and Andreas Stokbro, who all already had contracts for 2021, will be staying. 

On Monday, team directeur Lars Michaelsen told Cyclingnews the team are in the process of building their squad, with around 100 riders to choose from in a pandemic-affected market that has left many riders short of options.

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