Qhubeka-NextHash at the Primus Classic.

Qhubeka-NextHash remains a team in limbo

After missed UCI deadlines, the South African team is hoping for a miracle.

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Weeks after missing multiple UCI deadlines for registration as a WorldTour team in 2022, Team Qhubeka-NextHash remains in limbo.

The most recent deadline – which CyclingTips understands to have been a mid-November ‘hard’ cutoff for submission of financials – has passed by without apparent movement.

The South African squad has been on an increasingly desperate search for a new title sponsor that would ensure its financial security for the coming season. The continued uncertainty has seen the team lose most of its riders elsewhere; at time of writing, ProCyclingStats lists just five riders as on the books for 2022 – Simon Clarke, Sean Bennett, Connor Brown, Sergio Henao, and Henok Mulubrhan. Italian rider Domenico Pozzovivo is also hopeful of a renewed contract.  

Despite a lean roster and the advanced stage in the season, the team management could likely pull together a squad in time for the coming season, with more than 40 top tier riders currently on the market. Suitable sponsors, however, are a more finite resource. 

A year ago, Team Qhubeka found itself in similarly dire straits following the completion of Japanese telecommunications giant NTT’s one-year title sponsorship. The team scraped through into the 2021 season after Swiss apparel brand Assos stepped up a year ago.

But while that arrangement was expected to last for the duration of the season, the mysterious Slovenian cryptocurrency firm NextHash superseded Assos for title sponsorship on the eve of the 2021 Tour de France. 

NextHash is an organisation with a few question hovering marks over it – as CyclingTips reported at the time  – and the team showed signs of financial strain almost immediately thereafter.

In August, the team was late with wages due to “an unexpected delay with partner payments,” with minor partners asked to provide their final contributions for the year early. Qhubeka does not contribute financially to the team, indicating that – within a couple of months of signing up – the shortfall was due to NextHash.

Despite widespread perception that the crypto company’s title sponsorship would last for five years, it was later clarified that they would only be a minor sponsor for 2022 and beyond. 

With NextHash unwilling or unable to step up, Team Qhubeka’s options are dwindling. Assos has expressed tentative interest in continuing with the team – albeit not as a title sponsor – and talks with Premier-Tech appear to have faltered

The UCI – which, along with Qhubeka-NextHash management, did not respond to a request for comment from CyclingTips – has reportedly extended the deadline for the team until later this month, and reportedly told CyclingNews that “the UCI will communicate the list of the selected teams by the end of December.”

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