Team Qhubeka NextHash, Africa’s top cycling team, have confirmed that their hopes of racing on the World Tour in 2022 are over.
Despite this setback, the team had continued looking for sponsors in a bid to overturn the decision by the licence commission of cycling’s world governing body.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm that our hopes to race as a UCI World Tour team in 2022 are over,” a statement from the team said.
“This follows an extensive global search, during this unprecedented time, to secure the long-term future of the team.
“In the last few days, our final possibility to continue at that level was not able to be concluded, and so the decision has been taken for the World Tour operation to cease on 31 December, 2021.
“This is an extremely disappointing moment for our organisation.”
Moments of success
The team will, however, continue to compete in the second tier of global cycling.
“Team Qhubeka will continue to operate as a UCI Continental team in 2022, which is based in Italy, with our goal to return back to the top tier in the near future,” the statement added.
“Our support for the for the Qhubeka Charity is unwavering for whom to date we have raised significant funds and awareness. Further details will be communicated in due course.”
The South Africa-based team missed a deadline to apply for a licence in October, having struggled to find sponsors, and had not been able to be registered directly by the UCI.
Established in 2007, as well as trying to develop African cyclists, the team also raises awareness and funds for Qhubeka, a charity which raises money to provide bicycles for young people across southern Africa.
The team will continue to support the charity, which will continue to function as normal despite this setback.
Among the team’s highlights since its foundation are four stage wins by British rider Mark Cavendish on the 2016 Tour de France, the same year he won the Tour of Qatar.
It has also created history over the years with Eritrea’s Daniel Teklehaimanot in 2015 becoming the first rider from an African team to wear the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey at the Tour de France.
Earlier this year Nic Dlamini was the first black South African cyclist to ride the Tour de France.