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Vuelta a España winner Fabio Aru has announced he will be joining Qhubeka-ASSOS on a one-year deal. The 30-year-old Italian has been linked to a plethora of teams after it became clear UAE Emirates would not extend his contract after three years on the team.
Aru expressed happiness and gratitude at finding a home with Qhubeka-ASSOS in 2021.
“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Team Qhubeka ASSOS next season and very grateful to Douglas Ryder who welcomed me to his team. When the possibility to sign first came about, and then after speaking with Douglas and other team members, I immediately felt that this was an environment that I wanted to be a part of, “Aru said in a press statement by the South African team.
“I’ve also closely observed the work of the Qhubeka Charity and what they do is incredible. Some of my new colleagues have told me of the power and impact that going to a bicycle distribution ceremony has had on them. This has brought home to me the impact that the bicycle has had in my own life and the power it can hold for others. I really look forward to having that opportunity in the future too.”
Aru came onto the scene as a promising Grand Tour contender in 2013. He finished third in his second Giro d’Italia in 2014, was second the year after, and went on to win the Vuelta a España that same year, at only 25 years of age. After a stage win on La Planche des Belles Filles and a fifth place overall in the 2017 Tour de France, Aru struggled with form and injuries. He was not able to finish either of the last two Grand Tours he started in 2019 and 2020.
“In the last few years, I haven’t experienced all of the success that I’d hoped for and so I will use this new step to draw from some of the simple factors that saw me achieve those results, as I know that I’m capable again of similar success,” Aru said.
Team principal Douglas Ryder also expresses his hope Fabio Aru will get back to his best under the guidance of his new team, and be a factor in any of the three Grand Tours that Qhubeka-ASSOS gets to race as a WorldTour team in 2021.
“I am excited to have Fabio join our team; to have a rider who has won a Grand Tour in the Vuelta, been 5th in the Tour de France and twice on the podium of the Giro adds a lot to our teams development as we continue to strive to win on the world’s biggest stage; to inspire hope and create opportunity,” Ryder said.
“Fabio’s passion and love for cycling can be seen in the way he races and I think in our unique team we will see him rise again, as I am sure we will get the best out of each other.”
The NTT Pro Cycling team, as Qhubeka-ASSOS was known in 2020, faced an uncertain future after its main sponsors withdrew early in the silly season. At the last minute, the South African team managed to pull together a title sponsor for 2021 allowing the team to remain in the World Tour. Many of the team’s top riders had already left by the time the new sponsor was announced, allowing the team management to shop extensively on the transfer market. Fabio Aru is their tenth new signing. With the ten riders who were already under contract for 2021, or have extended their contract, there may be room for a few more new signings in the upcoming weeks.