Doug Ryder: “Emotional” to see Team Qhubeka ASSOS on the start line

Team Qhubeka ASSOS founder and Team Principal, Doug Ryder, says that he was “very emotional” watching the team race for the first time in 2021, during the opening stages of Étoile de Bessèges, in France.

Team Qhubeka ASSOS (formerly NTT Pro Cycling) is Africa’s only UCI-registered WorldTour cycling team and came very close to closing down at the end of 2020, after struggling to find a title sponsorship amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The end of the team would have ended the main pathway for riders from Africa hoping to ride in the pro peloton, and also bring the curtain down on Ryder’s dream, just five years after gaining access to cycling’s highest level.

“Watching the team on the road in our first race of 2021 was gratifying as there were so many times towards the end of last year, and in the last three months in particular, that we didn’t think that we would exist in 2021. 

“To see Team Qhubeka ASSOS standing on the team presentation podium in our black and white ASSOS strip with the neon hand and details on the kit was incredible, and very emotional. We’ve always dreamed of having a team called “Qhubeka” in the peloton and to see it come to life this season is incredible and the next step in our journey. Thank you to all of our partners for making that happen, we are very proud.”

The opening stage of the race saw the European and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo fight for a strong fourth place which he then followed up with an excellent third in a crash-marred second stage.

“The team performed so well and this speaks to our value system and culture of “Ubuntu” – that we cannot exist in isolation – I am because we are. A team of riders is made up of brilliant individuals and when they come together with a plan you can make magic happen; and to see the team commit to each other and bring Giacomo to the podium already in our first race in our first race for 2021, was really beautiful to see.

“It just shows how hard this team has worked and how committed they are to each other, to Qhubeka and to our goals as a team. That does bode well for the strong season that we plan to embark on this year with all the challenges that it faces from a human perspective, the travelling, the logistical and the events. The UCI as the governing body of the sport and all of us as teams are working really hard to support each other to make it happen.

“We believe that our team will motivate others and give hope and opportunity to people and continue to create social mobility across the African continent.

“So the year ahead for Team Qhubeka ASSOS is exciting and we are so pleased to be on the road. We thank our fans for their engagement, our current partners for their involvement and we look forward to bringing many new partners into this team as we continue to make an impact that really matters to those in need,” Ryder concluded.