Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis will take over as team manager at NTT Pro Cycling.
NTT Pro Cycling, formerly Dimension Data, have announced that Danish company Virtu Cycling will acquire a minority share of the team to improve the squad and continue to promote the Qhubeka Charity.
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Virtu, which is co-owned by Riis alongside businessmen Lars Seier Christensen and Jan Bech Andersen, will invest in one third of the shares of the team, with immediate effect.
The company had previously sponsored the Virtu Cycling women’s squad, once home to Marta Bastianelli, which was forced to close last season after struggling to find funds to keep running.
In 2007, retired Danish rider Riis, now 55, admitted he had taken performance enhancing drugs EPO, growth hormone and steroids, including during his Tour victory.
Riis, winner of the 1996 Tour de France, said: “We have had some thorough and fruitful talks and meetings with [NTT founder and team principal] Doug Ryder on the team’s future and potential.
“I’m really looking forward to our collaboration and to take one the sporting leadership of the team in this new setup.
“I have nothing but admiration for what Doug has built and achieved with this team, starting on the Continental level onwards to become a WorldTour team, for his contribution to cycling nad his work and support for the Qhubeka charity.”
South African squad NTT Pro Cycling was founded in 2007 and began the first ever African WorldTour team in 2016.
The team has the join ambition of performing on the world stage while raising awareness for Qhubeka, a South African charity that provides bikes to communities to help people get to work and school.
Douglas Ryder said: “Today is yet another significant moment in the history of this team, and indeed its future. The expertise and breadth of experience that Bjarne Riis will provide in supporting the sporting development through our unique technology-driven performance approach will be hugely significant, and further add on to what we have built with our title sponsor, NTT Ltd.”
“I believe this partnership will benefit the entire team to help them achieve great results which in turn helps shine a spotlight on our partners, our way of working as a team but most importantly our commitment in support of the Qhubeka Charity.”
Virtu Cycling is a collection of cycling lifestyle brands and companies throughout Denmark, that includes travel, clothing and equipment.
Virtu CEO Anders Gram said: “At Virtu Cycling, we have had talks and negotiations with other teams in terms of building a professional cycling team but decided to take the time needed to investigate our options thoroughly. As seen from our perspective, the potential in the partnership with NTT Pro Cycling and the match in philosophy was by far the most compelling to us and therefore the one, we chose.”