African cycling's only World Tour team NTT losing race to stay afloat

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NTT's Australian rider Ben O'Connor won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia
NTT's Australian rider Ben O'Connor won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia

The race to find a new sponsor in time for the 2021 season looks lost for South African elite level World Tour cycling team NTT, their general manager and former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis said Monday.

Road cycling's economy depends heavily on teams taking sponsorship as there is no paying audience and very little prize money.

NTT is a technology services group who were previously involved under the name of Dimension data, but announced in September they would not renew a sponsorship deal at the end of 2020.

"It's unrealistic to think a new sponsor will magically appear now," said Riis, who explained the pandemic was putting off investors.

"It's a shame because cycling offers huge sponsor potential for much less investment than Formula 1 or football," said the Dane.

"There was interest from Danish companies, especially now the Tour de France starts in Denmark in 2022, but they didn't make that last step."

Australian NTT rider Ben O'Connor won a stage on the recent Giro d'Italia and has been offered a deal with French team AG2R, but 18 of the Australian's teammates are out of contract on December 31, 2020.

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