The Riwal Securitas team will no longer compete in the international professional ranks in 2021, with funding issues leaving a switch to Continental status as the last remaining option in the team's fight for survival.
The Danish outfit graduated from the third-tier Continental ranks to second-division ProTeam status in 2019. However, they have been hit hard by the pandemic this year and the past few months have been spent trying to keep the team afloat in 2021.
Title sponsor Readynez had to reduce its backing, allowing minor partner Securitas to step up, but the search for a new company to invest the money needed to run a professional programme has come to nothing.
"We must recognize that the opportunities to have a ProTeam in 2021 are exhausted. That is too bad. That's sad. It has been a long process and we have worked hard, but unfortunately we did not succeed," team owner Steffen Kromann told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
"We have worked to the last, although we probably did not really believe that someone in the eleventh hour would go into this with a sponsorship of, for example, €2m."
The team was set up in 2009 and, after graduating to the pro ranks in 2019, hoped to ride the 2021 Tour de France, which was due to start in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. That has since been pushed back to 2022, and the team have not given up hope of being there.
Efforts will now turn to gathering enough money to run a Continental-level team with a smaller roster and more limited race calendar.
"Hopefully we will have the opportunity to make a continental team in 2021 with 10-12 riders. That is our ambition, and if that happens, then it will be with a renewed ambition to return to the professional field in 2022," said Kromann.
"The hope remains that an international company shows interest in becoming a title sponsor for our team and using cycling as a platform for spreading its brand."
Riwal Securitas have four riders under contract four next year, including Rasmus Quaade. Other riders, such as Briton James Shaw, were assured they would receive contract extensions if the team was able to secure its future as a ProTeam.
"This was my last hope to remain as a professional bike rider on the world scene," Shaw wrote on social media in reaction to the news on Saturday morning.
"Although I have a few irons in fires elsewhere, if anyone knows or is a manager with a professional cycling team please either get in touch or pass my details along."
There is similar uncertainty surrounding Jesper Hansen, who was not renewed by Cofidis and was promised a contract at Riwal if they landed a sponsor. "Right now, Riwal is my only opportunity to continue as a professional," the Dane had said. "There aren't really any alternatives."
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