Qhubeka-NextHash has announced that it will end its WorldTour operation, having failed to secure long-term funding.
The team, which partnered with the Qhubeka Charity, had its UCI license refused earlier this month. It will continue to maintain its Continental team, but the final decision leaves several riders searching for 2022 contracts.
The African outfit aimed to provide a "hugely progressive step in cycling," supporting not only the charity - which improves the lives of impoverished people via donated bikes - but also orchestrating talent progression. Milestone achievements included seeing Nic Dlamini become the first Black South African to ride in the Tour de France, with Daniel Teklehaimanot being the first African to pull on the polka dot jersey.
The team also played home to riders such as Steve Cummings, Mark Cavendish and Victor Campenaerts.
Following concern over its long-term prospects, Qhubeka-NextHash's future appeared to be bolstered when crypto currency NextHash came on board before the Tour de France, promising a five year deal. However, this later unraveled and in August it transpired that the team was unable to pay riders and staff on time. One sponsor confirmed that the team had asked for the final sponsorship payments, to keep them afloat.
Riders including Giacomo Nizzolo and Victor Campenaerts swiftly moved on, to Israel Start-Up Nation and Lotto-Soudal respectively.
However, the news leaves some professionals without a team for 2022 - in a recent interview, Domenico Pozzovivo announced that he would likely retire if the team did not make it into the WorldTour division next year.
In a press release, the team noted: "This is an extremely disappointing moment for our organisation. As a team that from the outset has strived to play a hugely progressive step in cycling through our partnership with the Qhubeka Charity, highlighted by our unique purpose-led approach, to not be able to continue to do so in 2022 comes as a significant loss to the cycling world."
"Our team has been a home for one and all, and carried the hopes and dreams of a continent and far beyond."
Calling the news "heavy" with sadness, the team says it remains "invigorated and motivated", saying they plan to "rebuild and to once again stake a claim to be racing on the sport’s biggest stage, all while ensuring that we continue to offer a platform for talent from Africa to progress to the very highest level."
Continental squad, Team Qhubeka, will continue to operate - based in Italy - the goal being to make a return to the top level of the sport, whilst continuing to support the Qhubeka Charity.
Commenting on the end of the WorldTour squad, for now, Team Principal Douglas Ryder said: "We rose as Africa’s team from South Africa, to include all of Africa; from road cycling to mountain biking to women’s cycling and finally focusing on taking an African-registered road team to the Tour de France.
"We have moved Africa forwards in cycling, we have moved people through Qhubeka and we will continue our movement that bicycles do change people’s lives. Having the world championships take place in Rwanda in 2025 is a testament to so many working together and believing in Africa’s potential."
Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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