Qhubeka NextHash confirms that its WorldTour team will close at the end of 2021
In a statement posted on its website, Qhubeka NextHash announced that “the decision has been taken to end Operation WorldTour” at the end of this year. The Qhubeka Continental squad will continue next season, but the search for sponsorship support to keep the Premier League squad going has been unsuccessful.
âOn Thursday, I sent an internal message to our staff and our runners to tell them the news. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life, âsaid team principal Doug Ryder in a statement.
âThe responses have been so moving and encouraging. It has given me such faith and conviction that what we have done here is truly unique; when you work in an environment that has a bigger purpose and has a positive impact on others, it doesn’t feel like work anymore.
The South African team spent six years racing in the WorldTour, reaching their highest level in 2016 when, previously known as MTN-Qhubeka, it became Dimension Data. The team will carry this moniker for four seasons before changing their name to NTT, the parent company of Dimension Data, in 2020, although NTT announced at the start of the season that it would end its sponsorship of the team at the end of this year.
The imminent departure of the team’s title sponsor left Ryder tasked with finding a new funder, and the search lasted until the offseason until Assos intervened, effectively preventing the team from falling back. . As such, the team ran under the Qhubeka-Assos name in early 2021, while continuing to search for a long-term sponsor.
Right before the Tour de France, the team announced that they had signed a long-term deal with NextHash, which owns several cryptocurrency and blockchain companies. The team thus became Qhubeka-NextHash.
Less than two months later, and after reports from CyclingTips revealed financial irregularities behind the new sponsor, news of unpaid wages within the team began to emerge. At the end of September, riders and staff were told they could “look for opportunities elsewhere” in an uncertain financial future for the team as management embarked on the search for new sponsors. The team then missed the deadlines to apply for a WorldTour license.
This week, management told team members that the search for a new sponsor had been unsuccessful, and the team announced the news publicly on Friday, terminating the WorldTour team.
The organization’s Continental team will race next year and the team will continue to look for a way to return to top division races “in the near future”.