NTT will become Qhubeka-Assos, Astana bolsters its roster: Daily News Digest

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We head into the weekend with good news for fans of the team currently known as NTT as the South African squad is set to continue in 2021.

After months of uncertainty, Doug Ryder’s team announced on Friday that it would ride on next season as Qhubeka-Assos.

Read on for more …

Dane Cash
News Editor

What’s News

| NTT will continue as Qhubeka-Assos

The team currently known as NTT will ride on in 2021 as Qhubeka-Assos.

The news comes after a sponsorship search that lasted for months, with NTT departing from the title sponsor role at the end of this year. Assos has been the team’s clothing supplier for two years but will now step up into a co-title sponsor role. Qhubeka, the South African non-profit that donates bicycles to communities and people, has been affiliated with the squad (formerly known as MTN-Qhubeka) for years.

“I am really happy to have gained the support of some incredible people and partners including Assos of Switzerland who have stepped in to be a headline sponsor,” team principal Doug Ryder said. “To be able to recreate the team as Team Qhubeka Assos talks to exactly what we continue to strive for, and that is to be a purpose-led, high-performance racing team.”

Over the past several uncertain weeks, the team has seen a number of its riders find contracts elsewhere, with Louis Meintjes, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Ben King among those moving on next season, but other members of the current NTT team are expected to return, and there are also far more notables than usual still available on the transfer market right now at the end of this unconventional season.

| Astana announces six signings, including last year’s U23 world champ Samuele Battistella

Astana, which will become Astana-Premier Tech next season, announced the signing of six newcomers on Friday, including Samuele Battistella, who won last year’s under-23 world road title after Nils Eekhoff was disqualified.

Battistella, a promising all-rounder, made his WorldTour debut with the aforementioned NTT team this season. The 22-year-old Italian is heading to the Astana-Premier Tech team on a two-year deal.

Also announced as coming aboard at Astana for next season are Stefan de Bod, Andrea Piccolo, Benjamin Perry, Javier Romo, and Matteo Sobrero. Friday’s announcement follows a Thursday announcement that the team had signed newcomers Yevgeniy Fedorov and Gleb Brussenskiy and extended with Yevgeniy Gidich, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Yuriy Natarov, Vadim Pronskiy, Nikita Stalnov, and Artyom Zakharov.

| Pieter Weening retires

Pieter Weening is hanging up the wheels after 17 years as a pro. The 39-year-old Dutchman racked up some solid results over the course of his lengthy career, with a palmares that includes two Giro d’Italia stage wins, one Tour de France stage win, and overall titles at the Tour of Poland and the Tour of Norway.

“I’m happy to announce it now that I feel confident and happy to be able to do it,” Weening said of his retirement via a press release from Trek-Segafredo. “For almost 20 years, I did the job I dreamed of and loved. I enjoyed every season I raced, and I feel really grateful for this. But in the last weeks, I serenely said to myself that it’s enough.”

| Mitchelton-Scott extends Bookwalter and Grmay

Mitchelton-Scott announced on Friday that both Brent Bookwalter and Tsgabu Grmay will ride on with the team in 2021 after signing one-year extensions.

Bookwalter and Grmay both joined the team in 2019 and have slotted into support roles in the stage races and the hillier one-days. Bookwalter, 36, came over from BMC after more than a decade there. Grmay, 29, came over from Trek-Segafredo, where he spent one season after stints with MTN-Qhubeka, Lampre-Merida, and Bahrain-Merida.

| Israel Start-Up Nation renews with Niv, Sagiv, Goldstein, and Einhorn

Israel Start-Up Nation announced Friday that it has renewed the contracts of its four Israeli riders: Guy Niv, Guy Sagiv, Omer Goldstein, and Itamar Einhorn.

Niv, 26, has been with the team since 2018 and became the first Israel to ride the Tour de France earlier this year. Sagiv joined the squad in 2015, Goldstein rode with the team in 2016 and returned in 2018, and Einhorn came aboard in 2019.

| LA Sweat links up with Blackstone Bicycle Works youth program

American cycling team LA Sweat is working with Blackstone Bicycle Works as mentors for their WTF (Women, Trans, Femme) youth program.

LA Sweat announced this week that it is returning its full roster for next season while also holding spots for BIPOC riders, and through its partnership with Blackstone Bicycle Works, the team will also bring on four young riders for next season as part of a development squad.

“With the support of our sponsors it was a no-brainer for us to partner with Blackstone Bicycle Works,” said team founder Kelli Samuelson. “Their program is inspiring, and we want to do whatever we need to help foster and mentor their WTF BIPOC youth. We all truly believe we can make a difference in the peloton and help grow this sport for all.”

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Today’s featured image comes from Cor Vos. As of 2020, it’s 40 years since Joop Zoetemelk stormed to his long-awaited first and only Tour de France title. That’s him on the left … but can you name the teammate on the right (a former world champion) who looks to be even more excited about the big result?

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