Doug Ryder confirms search for sponsors continues for Qhubeka-NextHash

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Qhubeka-NextHash director Douglas Ryder said the search for reigning sponsors continues with the aim of keeping the long-standing African-backed team in the peloton.

Management informed riders last week via email that they are free from any contractual obligations with the team as the search for sponsors continues, sounding the alarm bells for the team’s future.

Team principal Doug Ryder, who competes at Paris-Roubaix this weekend in France, said he remains optimistic the team will be on the road next season.

“We are still looking for a title partner for 2022, and we are working on a few options,” Ryder said in a statement to VeloNews.

“We have conversations with partners that have been going on for months,” he said. “COVID hasn’t helped make decisions, but we’re about to make decisions on the team, and we’re hoping we can meet the deadlines and deadlines to get a team on the road to 2022.

“I am very positive and hopeful, and we are working very hard to make this absolutely happen.”

Last week, media reported that the team was releasing their riders from contracts, news that is usually a harbinger of bad news for a team.

Read also: Runners released from contracts as the search for sponsors continues

Ryder, however, called the move “procedural,” but confirmed riders are free to seek new deals for 2022 while he and his staff continue to negotiate with potential sponsors for next season.

“With regard to media speculation around the emails sent to our riders on September 30, this is a procedural requirement of the ‘Joint Agreement’ and the Professional Cycling Council, CPA, that all teams must inform the runners by the last [by September 30] if they have any contracts in the team beyond this season – if you do not renew a contract with a rider, you must notify a rider

“It’s a matter of procedure, it has nothing to do with the stability of the team, or their future, or whatever,” he said. “It has to make the riders procedurally say whether they are under contract with the team in the future or not.”

Like many teams, it has been against the ropes several times throughout its history. In 2020, former pro Bjarne Riis joined the team only to see him leave at the end of the season, with Assos and then NextHash as co-sponsors for this season.

There has been speculation that the longtime African team may be seeking the services of Canadian funder Premier Tech, which is leaving its partnership with Astana at the end of 2021.

Read also: Premier Tech looking for a new WorldTour partner

Premier Tech officials said they were considering several suitors, including Qhubeka, BikeExchange and Israel Start-Up Nation, and said a decision would be made by the end of September. For the moment, Premier Tech has not revealed its future alliance.

Qhubeka-NextHash officials say the team will complete its full racing schedule in 2021.

“NFT” and a place on the jersey for NextHash

Ryder also clarified that NextHash, a cryptocurrency platform that joined the team in 2021, will be a “jersey partner” in the future, but said this was still part of the original deal with the team.

“NextHash signed a four-and-a-half-year deal at the end of June, which in 2021 would replace Assos’ co-naming partner, but only in 2021,” he said. “From 2022, they would be a jersey partner. Their funding in the team is not enough to take the title sponsor into the team.

Ryder also said the team plans to create “NFTs” (non-fungible tokens) that will be available to the team’s fan base, using the NextHash platform.

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