Qhubeka NextHash at the Tour de France.

Qhubeka NextHash confirms that its WorldTour team will shut down at the end of 2021

The Qhubeka NextHash WorldTour team will not continue into 2022.

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In a statement on its website, Qhubeka NextHash has announced that “the decision has been taken for the WorldTour operation to cease” at the end of this year. The Qhubeka Continental team will continue next season, but a search for sponsorship support to keep the top-division team running proved unsuccessful.

“On Thursday I sent an internal message to our staff and riders to tell them the news. It was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life,” team principal Doug Ryder said in a statement.

“The responses have been so emotional and supportive. It gave me such faith and belief that what we have done here is truly unique; when you work in an environment that has a bigger purpose and impacts others positively then it no longer feels like work.”

The South African team spent six years racing in the WorldTour, moving up to the highest level in 2016 when, previously known as MTN-Qhubeka, it became Dimension Data. The team would sport that moniker for four seasons before changing its name to NTT, the parent company of Dimension Data, in 2020, though NTT announced early that season that it would halt its sponsorship of the squad at the end of that year.

The impending departure of the team’s title sponsor left Ryder tasked with finding a new backer, and the search lasted into the offseason until Assos stepped in, effectively keeping the team from folding. As such, the squad raced as Qhubeka-Assos at the start of 2021, albeit while continuing the look for a longterm sponsor.

Just before the Tour de France, the team announced that it had signed a longterm agreement with NextHash, which owns multiple companies in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. The team thus became Qhubeka-NextHash.

Less than two months later, and after CyclingTips reporting revealed financial irregularities behind the new sponsor, news of unpaid wages at the team began to emerge. In late September, riders and staff were told they could “seek opportunities elsewhere” amid an uncertain financial future for the team as management engaged in a search for new sponsors. The team then missed deadlines for applying for a WorldTour license.

This week, management told team members that the search for a new sponsor had been unsuccessful, and the team announced the news publicly on Friday, bringing an end to the WorldTour squad.

The organization’s Continental team will ride on next year, and the squad will continue to look for a way to return to higher-division racing “in the near future.”

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