Africa’s top cycling team, Qhubeka NextHash, has admitted their hopes of racing on the WorldTour in 2022 are over.
Despite the setback, the team continued to seek sponsors in an attempt to overturn the decision of the licensing commission of the world’s cycling governing body.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm that our hopes of racing as a UCI WorldTour team in 2022 are over,” a statement from the team said.
“This follows extensive global research, during this unprecedented time, to secure the long-term future of the team.
“In recent days, our last opportunity to continue at this level could not be concluded, and the decision was therefore taken to end Operation WorldTour on December 31, 2021.
“This is an extremely disappointing time for our organization.”
Moments of success
In 2021, Nic Dlamini was the first black African rider from South Africa to participate in the Tour de France
The team will however continue to compete in the second level of world cycling.
“The Qhubeka team will continue to function as a UCI continental team in 2022, based in Italy, with our aim to return to the forefront in the near future,” the statement added.
“Our support for the Qhubeka charity is unwavering for whom to date we have raised significant funds and raised awareness. Further details will be released in due course.”
The team based in South Africa missed a deadline to apply for a license in October having had difficulty in finding sponsors, and not having been able to register directly with the UCI.
Established in 2007, in addition to trying to develop African cyclists, the team also raises awareness and fundraising for Qhubeka, a charity that raises funds to provide bicycles to young people across southern Africa.
The team will continue to support the association, which will continue to function normally despite this setback.
Highlights of the team since its founding have included four stage victories for British rider Mark Cavendish in the 2016 Tour de France, the same year he won the Tour of Qatar.
He has also made history over the years, with Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot in 2015 becoming the first rider from an African team to wear the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey in the Tour de France.
Earlier this year, Nic Dlamini was the first black South African cyclist to participate in the Tour de France.