The future of ProTeam Bolton Equities Black Spoke is in the balance, Cycling Weekly understands.
The New Zealand-based squad, which currently homes 20 contracted riders and three stagiaires, could fold at the end of 2023, after just one year at ProTeam level.
In a statement shared on Wednesday, the team revealed that its main sponsor, Bolton Equities, will strip back its support at the end of 2023, moving to a non-title sponsor.
A source close to the team told Cycling Weekly that riders were only informed of this decision on Tuesday.
In the absence of a main sponsor, it is possible the team could drop back to Continental level for next season. "However additional sponsors are needed to proceed with the 2024 season at UCI Continental level," the team statement said.
Since the news comes so late in the season, riders could now face a potential scramble to find new teams for 2024, as many rosters are already filling up.
“All riders and staff shocked,” one source said, while another described the situation as "frustrating".
In a now deleted Instagram post, originally shared on Wednesday, one Bolton Equities Black Spoke rider wrote that they had been “hit with bad news” about the team. “The future is uncertain, not just for me but all of us on the team,” continued the rider, whose name Cycling Weekly has chosen not to publish in order to respect their privacy.
After four successful years as the title sponsor, Bolton Equities has announced the conclusion of its UCI ProTeam level sponsorship at the end of 2023 and will work towards a UCI Continental level team in 2024.Read more in the article below 👇🏼https://t.co/Pa0cnjCpUm pic.twitter.com/VoOS5WKJFuSeptember 27, 2023
The news comes just over a month after GCN revealed another ProTeam, Human Powered Health, is facing closure for 2024. According to reports, the American team’s title sponsor has opted not to renew for next season. Its paired women’s WorldTour team, however, is expected to continue racing.
Last season, Bolton Equities Black Spoke finished as the highest-placed Continental team in the UCI rankings, and stepped up to ProTeam level for 2023, one tier below the WorldTour.
The team’s roster currently counts a handful of British riders, some of whom joined following the collapse of British Continental outfit AT85 - formerly known as WiV SunGod - in early 2023.
Likewise, there are a number of Olympic track hopefuls on the team who could now be left without a ride.
"The timing just couldn't be worse," sports director Greg Henderson wrote on X. "We have 4 athletes in the team that are genuine Olympic medallists in the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. To be told last week makes it an even harder pill to swallow."
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