The fate of NTT Pro Cycling still looks bleak, as the team’s boss says there is still no new sponsor lined up.
Team manager Bjarne Riis said “time is running out” as he tries to secure the team’s future beyond 2020, as headline sponsor NTT is pulling out at the end of the season.
Riis, a former pro who won the 1996 Tour de France, only took over the South African WorldTour team in January, but says the chances of him running a squad beyond the end of the year look unlikely.
In an interview with Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, Riis said: “As it looks right now, there is not a team with me at the helm next year. That’s the situation. We do not have a sponsor on hand right now and it is getting late so it does not look too good.”
In January Riis took over as team manager of NTT Pro Cycling, formerly Dimension Data, as Danish company Virtu Cycling acquired a minority share of the team.
But in late September the squad announced they faced an uncertain future as Japan-based telecommunications company NTT will be pulling out after six years in cycling.
NTT is the only African team in the WorldTour and over the years has done a huge amount to support charity Qhubeka, which has supplied thousands of bikes to communities in Africa.
But the team has been in difficulty this season, as the NTT sponsorship comes to an end at the end of the year with team principal Doug Ryder assuring staff and riders a new backer would be found.
Alongside the sponsorship uncertainty, the team has also struggled for results.
Last season, the teamed picked up just one WorldTour win all year as Edvald Boasson Hagen won the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
This year the team has picked up three WorldTour victories, with Giacomo Nizzolo at the Tour Down Under and Paris-Nice, and Ben O’Connor at the Giro d’Italia while Nizzolo also improved the prospects for the team by winning the European Championships in August.