Sean Bennett signs for Tjallingii's new Chinese Continental team
Smit also signs with China Glory Cycling Team, Mulubrhan to BikeAid
One of the last riders from Team Qhubeka-NextHash to find a contract for 2022, Sean Bennett has finally found a team with the new China Glory Cycling Team created by former pros Maarten Tjallingii with sports directors Amaël Moinard and Lionel Marie.
Bennett, 25, is one of a dozen riders announced for the team, half of whom are Chinese and half non-Asian. South African Willie Smit (Burgos-BH), Dutch riders Reinier Honig and Etienne van Empel, and New Zealander Hayden Strong are all part of the roster.
They join Chinese talents including Lyu Xianjing, winner of the Tour of China II and multi-time Continental champion in mountain bike cross country, Chinese time trial champion Xue Ming, and Nazaerbieke Bieken, who raced two seasons with the Mitchelton-BikeExchange Continental team.
The squad was announced on the team's social media channels after the UCI approved their registration as a Continental team, saying they were finalizing plans for an international racing season.
"China Glory Cycling Team aims to develop Chinese riders alongside international mentors and in this way prepare them for a career in international cycling," the team wrote.
After three seasons in the WorldTour, first with EF Education First and then Qhubeka, Bennett will drop to the Continental level along with former Danish teammate in the African team Andreas Stokbro, who signed with Team Coop.
The team announced they would end in December after the UCI refused their registration as a WorldTour team, leaving several established riders without prospects for 2022. Still looking are Domenico Pozzovivo, notable domestique Sergio Henao, sprinter Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, African talent Nic Dlamini, Swiss rider Kilian Frankiny, and Spaniard Carlos Barbero.
Other riders have taken a step back from the WorldTour to the Continental level, with Bert-Jan Lindeman heading to the Dutch Continental outfit VolkerWessels, Dylan Sunderland to Global 6, Harry Tanfield to Ribble-Weldtite, Karel Vacek to Tirol-KTM, and Emil Vinjebo to Riwal.
The promising Eritrean Henok Mulubrhan, who raced with Qhubeka's development team and was due to move to the WorldTour squad, signed with the German team Bike Aid.
The most fortunate riders from Team Qhubeka-NextHash signed with other WorldTeams, with Israel-Premier Tech adding Simon Clarke and Giacomo Nizzolo, EF Education-EasyPost snapping up Lukasz Wisniowski, Cofidis bringing on both Sander Armée and Max Walscheid, Lotto Soudal bringing Victor Campenaerts back and QuickStep-AlphaVinyl naming Mauro Schmid as a late addition.
Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Gogl dropped to the ProTeam level with Uno-X and Alpecin-Fenix, respectively.
Others retired, with Fabio Aru deciding to end his career before the team's demise, while Matteo Pelucchi and Rob Power stopped their pro careers rather than scramble for another contract.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, anti-doping, UCI governance and performing data analysis.