NTT Pro Cycling boss Bjarne Riis says ‘time is running out, it’s not looking good'

The WorldTour squad needs a new sponsor to continue racing in 2021 

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

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 (opens in new tab), 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.

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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. 

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.