The fight to remain a professional: thirteen Qhubeka-NextHash riders without a 2022 team

Two riders have already announced their retirement and more could follow

(Image credit: Getty)

Thirteen Qhubeka-NextHash riders remain without a confirmed team for the 2022 season, after the UCI confirmed that their application for a WorldTour licence has been rejected.

The South African-registered team, whose origins began back in 2008 as MTN Energade, have been troubled by financial difficulties for a number of years, and it now looks unlikely that team principal Doug Ryder will find the additional funding he needs to run the team next season.

That has left more than a dozen riders in limbo, with the younger crop wanting to prolong their cycling career while others, like Domenico Pozzovivo, are likely to retire. The Italian has recently said that he would bring an end to his career should the team not continue.

For the 2021 season they had 27 riders on their books, 17 of which had been recruited in the winter.

Riders who remain without a confirmed team for next season include the South African Nic Dlamini, the highly-rated Australia Robert Power and Sergia Henao, the Colombian once of Team Sky.

There are five riders who had contracts for next season, including the 22-year-old Eritrean Henok Mulubrhan who had signed until the end of the 2023 season from the team’s development squad.

Thirty-three-year-old Henao and Simon Clarke, 35, could follow Pozzovivo into retirement. Cycling Weekly has reached out to Australian Clarke to clarify his position. Two other riders who raced for the team in 2021 have already announced their retirement: 2015 Vuelta a España champion Fabio Aru and Matteo Pelucchi.

For Sean Bennett and Connor Brown, however, they will be seeking rides at different teams, the latter having only just completed his first year as a professional.

Question marks remain over eight other riders who were not already tied down to the team for the forthcoming season.

Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg has been in the team for every year of his 12-year career aside from a two-year spell away at Argos-Shimano. If he cannot find a new employer, he too may be forced to hang up his wheels.

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Australian Dylan Sunderland, Spaniard Carlos Barbero, the Danish riders Emil Vinjebo and Andreas Stokbro are also facing a fight to continue their careers, as is Swiss Kilian Frankiny. 

Twelve riders have already found teams for the upcoming season, but only seven are staying at WorldTour level, with the Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts rejoining Lotto-Soudal and Cofidis signing both Max Walscheid and Sander Armée.

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