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NTT Pro Cycling begin hunt for new sponsor

Joe Robinson
29 Sep 2020

The future of Africa's first WorldTour team hangs in balance as search for title sponsor begins

Africa's first-ever WorldTour cycling team is on the hunt for a new title sponsor as Japanese telecommunications NTT confirmed it will not continue to back the team.

In a statement released on Monday evening, NTT confirmed it would not be renewing its sponsorship contract with the team, ending a partnership that spanned six seasons.

The team, headed by Doug Ryder, then confirmed it would begin the search for a new title sponsor for the 2021 season in a bid to continue Africa's only top-level cycling team but also continue the work it does with cycling charity, Qhubeka.

'On Monday evening team principal Douglas Ryder informed all members of our organisation – the UCI WorldTour outfit and UCI Continental team – that NTT will not continue with the team, ending our six-year association,' the statement read.

'This is of course is very disappointing news but we are committed to fight for our team’s future and are exploring every possible avenue available to us. Our partnership with the Qhubeka Charity has incredibly spanned 10 years and seen us play a key role in the distribution of over 100,000 bicycles in disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa.'

NTT Pro Cycling has been backed by various marquee sponsors in its tenure, most notably South African telecommunications firm MTN. The team were granted WorldTour status in 2016 and underlined an ambitious target of producing the first black, African winner of the Tour de France.

However, poor results and the Covid-19 crisis clearly impacted the team's future with rumours of NTT's withdrawal first arising during the Tour de France.

This came off the back of further rumours that Danish window brand Velux was positioning to take over as the team's title sponsor from 2021 following the arrival of Danish sport director Bjarne Riis.

Since forming as a UCI Continental team in 2007, the African team has taken seven Tour de France stage - including the yellow jersey with Mark Cavendish in 2016 - three Vuelta a Espana stage and one Giro d'Italia stage. The team also won the 2013 Milan-San Remo with Gerard Ciolek.

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