After the Japanese telecommunications company NTT decides to end its endorsement, a new sponsor is needed in the next few weeks if the team is to enter the top global events next year.
NTT rider Dominico Pozzivovo currently ranks fourth in the ongoing Giro D’Italia, one of three grand trips to cycling – a position that marks a historic high for the team.
But the financial pressure on the team is intense.
Team chief Doug Ryder said, “We’re struggling to keep the lights on at the moment, but at the moment we’re looking okay for future mates.”
“We’ve got literally three to four weeks, so the clock is absolutely tickling. We hope we can find someone who can push us forward.”
Without a new sponsor in early November, when teams must register for next year’s events with the global cycling body, UCI, a loss in the team’s finances means it may not be able to compete WorldTour next year Can.
The competition features over 30 of the sport’s biggest events, including the Tour de France, the Giro d’Atalia and Spain’s La Luelta.
A merger with another team wishing to use NTT’s WorldTour license could mean some form of continuity – but that’s not what Rider’s goal is.
“We are looking for a title partner – no question – to continue as we are today” he said.
Bicycles change lives
Since it was formed in 2007, a team that consists of many different sponsors – including MTN and Dimension Data – has maintained its strong ties to the Quebec charity of South Africa, which serves the youth of South Africa Raises money to provide a bicycle.
“This is our tenth year in solid partnership with them and we have given more than 100,000 bicycles to individuals and helped them transform hope, opportunity and life,” Ryder said.
“The team has given global exposure to that initiative. We will continue to support Qububeka, no question, but if the team does not exist it will affect Qhubeka completely.”
The team has also been a driving force in developing African cycling talents, finishing bottom in 2015 before making history, as the first African-registered team to take part in the Tour de France.
He made an immediate impact with Eritrean’s Daniel Teklemanot, becoming the first African to wear the famous red-and-white Polkadot jersey given to Tour’s best climber, after claiming it in Tour 6.
Shortly afterwards, on a day of special significance for the African team – South Africa’s Mandela Day – British rider Steve Cummings won his first leg at the world-famous event.
A year later, UCI granted him a license for WorldTour – the highest class of bicycles – and entered the top bicycle race with it.
Over the years, the rider has attracted some of the biggest names in cycling – such as Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who won four Tour de France stages with the team in 2016, and Ewald Bosen Hagen of Norway.
He has also provided a platform for some young African talents to gain experience at the highest level, such as Louis Meintjes of South Africa, Teklehimnot and his compatriot Natnal Barhane.
“This team shows that Africans are in the world of cycling – and deserve to live,” Ryder said.
“It is incredibly important to bring the bicycle to Africa for the future and for globalization and I think it will be regained if our team does not exist and this door is not open to people across the continent. . “
But he is confident that a new sponsor will be found to take the team forward.
“I have to be positive, I am positive and we have this incredible purpose that drives us, so I believe we will definitely find something.