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NTT team confirmed to race on as Qhubeka Assos

NTT Pro Cycling
(Image credit: NTT Pro Cycling)

As reported by Cyclingnews earlier this week, clothing brand Assos has stepped in and saved Doug Ryder’s WorldTour team, with the Swiss company helping to fund the team for the next two seasons. 

In 2021, the team will race as Qhubeka Assos, with the team’s long-standing relationship with the Qhubeka charity ensuring that their collaboration continues.

Doug Ryder has been searching for a new sponsor since the start of the year and in September it was revealed that NTT would be stepping away from the team altogether after just one season as the lead sponsor. The news of the departure put the team in serious jeopardy and several high profile riders, including Michael Valgren, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ben O’Connor, all signed for rival teams.

In the past week, and with the funding from Assos secure, the team management have been scrambling to build a new roster and the team are set to keep the core of their South African contingent for next season. The arrival of Assos means that African riders have key pathway into the WorldTour and ensures the safety of a WorldTour team that was on the brink of closure.

"We have really enjoyed being part of this mission driven team – Qhubeka’s slogan that 'bicycles change lives' could not inspire us more. And ASSOS has always been and continues to be deeply entwined in professional cycling – we were really moved by the opportunity to support the sport during the COVID crisis by keeping this important team part of the pro peloton," said Assos CEO, Derek Bouchard-Hall.

Assos has been impressed with the collaboration with Ryder’s team this year and has benefited from the team allowing the brand to test its clothing on their riders throughout the 2020 season, while BMC are also set to remain as the team’s bike supplier.

"I look forward to welcoming new partners to Team Qhubeka ASSOS as we plan and prepare for a new season in 2021 in a world that has been so heavily impacted by the pandemic," Ryder said.

"The bicycle continues to be a tool to change the lives of so many people for commuting, for sport, for health, for freedom and access. Our team has always been about much more than victories, but we do love to win. 

"I also want to pay a special tribute to our staff. Those in the sport know just how difficult it is, so to see the diligence, care and professionalism they’ve shown throughout gives me inspiration, every day. We truly are a family."

In terms of the rest of the roster, Jay Thomson, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, and Nic Dlamini are all set to stay. The team is also in discussions with EF Pro Cycling rider Simon Clarke and Fabio Aru, with the Italian destined to leave UAE Team Emirates after three disappointing seasons.

Giacomo Nizzolo, the team’s best sprinter in 2020, has yet to re-sign but is expected to stay, and Max Walscheid, Domenico Pozzovivo, Andreas Stokbro, Michael Gogl, Dylan Sunderland, and Victor Campenaerts have all been given new deals until the end of 2022. Carlos Barbero has been given a one-year extension. The team are still looking for riders, as they attempt to maintain a squad of around 27-28 riders for next season.