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Vincenzo Nibali and Doug Ryder launch new second-tier pro team

The Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team will mark South African Ryder’s return to the peloton following the demise of Qhubeka-NextHash at the end of 2021

Doug Ryder and the recently retired Vincenzo Nibali launched their new second-tier professional men’s team on Friday.

The Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team will mark South African Ryder’s first foray back into professional cycling since the demise of his Qhubeka WorldTour team at the end of 2021, after a troubled few years punctuated by funding gaps and controversy over the team’s final title sponsor, cryptocurrency company NextHash.

Despite the squad’s inauspicious end, the outfit known as ‘Africa’s Team’ enjoyed a successful decade near the top of professional cycling and, through its association with the charity Qhubeka, provided 30,000 bicycles to people in Africa.

A surprise monument win for German sprinter Gerald Ciolek at an epic, snowy edition of Milan-San Remo announced the team’s arrival on the world stage in 2013, while a string of Tour de France stage successes, courtesy of Steve Cummings (including one particularly memorable victory on Mandela Day in 2015), Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Mark Cavendish (who sprinted to four wins for the squad in 2016) confirmed its spot at cycling’s elite table.

> End of the road looms for Qhubeka-NextHash as UCI refuses licence

Ryder will hope for similar success with his new set-up, established with the help of South African billionaire Ivan Glasenberg and Italian cycling clothing company Q36.5, which for now has stepped up as the ProTeam’s title sponsor.

Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España winner Vincenzo Nibali, who retired from racing at last month’s Il Lombardia, will act as the team’s technical advisor and brand ambassador for Q36.5.

23 riders have also been confirmed as part of the new team, which has inherited the former Qhubeka squad’s online and social media presence, including former BikeExchange-Jayco riders Damien Howson and Jack Bauer, DSM’s Mark Donovan, Trek-Segafredo’s Gianluca Brambilla, along with other experienced pros Tobias Ludvigsson, Joey Rosskopf, and Carl Frederik Hagen.

“We have assembled a talented, motivated and committed group of individuals, who can be competitive in every type of race and terrain,” says the team’s head of performance Alex Sans Vega. “We want to perform at the highest level from the beginning. The experienced riders who have joined us from the WorldTour bring a wealth of knowledge and will be able to mentor the youngsters in our squad. We have an excellent mix to become one of the best Pro Teams.”

Meanwhile, general manager Ryder once again emphasised that his team’s goals are about more than simply winning.

“Cycling ignites positive change and we believe this roster of riders and staff will live our mission, will be committed to each other, and will race with passion and fight,” he said in a statement.

“With progress at the heart of who we are, our goal is also to help communities grow sustainably using the upward mobility that bikes offer. Bikes don’t only bring people together; they also help move them forward.

“As a team, we’ll be racing for more than just winning; we’re racing to shape the future in a positive way, with a key focus on mobility, education, and development in Africa.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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