The management at Qhubeka-NextHash have told riders and staff that the team’s unsuccessful search for a WorldTour sponsor for 2022 has ended.
The team had already been denied a WorldTour licence by the UCI in early December but team boss Doug Ryder had attempted to keep negotiation channels open in the hope of finding a last-minute deal.
However, an internal communication, sent to all riders and staff, and seen by Cyclingnews on Thursday has confirmed that the search for a title sponsor has ended in failure.
In a statement send out on Thursday, Ryder states: “I am very sad to send this message. We have tried everything to find sponsors for our team for next season, right up until the last few days, but nothing has materialised in time.
“We have engaged with ten sports’ marketing agencies across the world and spoke to over one hundred companies. I am thankful to those of you who also supported us through talking to potential sponsors. There has not been a day that went by since NTT opted to end their support that we did not work on securing our long-term future.”
The team almost folded at the end of 2020 but were saved at the last minute when Assos agreed to step up and become the title sponsor of the squad. That gave Ryder a lifeline and it looked as though the team had at least another 12 months as the management continued to try and find a long-term backer.
On the eve of the 2021 Tour de France, NextHash were unveiled as the team’s new title sponsor and while the deal was reported to last five years the squad were dogged by financial issues. Riders and staff faced delays with their August wages and several sponsors were asked to provide early financial assistance when it came to their final investments. At the same time, several high-profile riders began to look for employment elsewhere and in the autumn the team notified riders that even if they had contracts for 2022, they were free to seek alternatives for the future.
During that period the team told Cyclingnews that they were committed to paying riders and staff, and that the search for a 2022 title sponsor would continue.
On December 14, the UCI confirmed that despite extending their licence process for several weeks in a bid to give the team every chance of finding the necessary funds to run a team, that time was up. Ryder was still determined to find a solution in order to keep the team going but on Thursday he admitted that every single avenue had been explored. In his letter to the riders and staff he paid tribute the vast support the team had received over the years, although he made no reference whatsoever to NextHash as a partner.
“I am so proud of what we have achieved together. The family spirit and feeling of Ubuntu was embraced by all of you on and off the bike. Never have I seen such unity and one united team spirit as what we had this year. You all have embraced the platform this team provides and grew as people united by our purpose. You should be incredibly proud of what we achieved together,” he wrote.
“I hope these feelings and memories will live with you as we go our separate ways in 2022 even with the last few challenging months. Our cash flow issues due to sponsors not paying on time, or at all, has really impacted on us.”
Ryder did confirm that the team’s Continental set-up will continue in 2022 and that he would try and put together a top-flight team in 2023.
“Thank you to all of you as Team Qhubeka is loved by so many people around the world. Even though we will not be in the World Tour or a Pro Continental Team next season, we will continue with the Continental team. The support of emerging talent is incredibly important for us to rise again in 2023. This is our goal.”
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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