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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, November 21, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

A good upbringing means not that you won't spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won't notice it when someone else does. - Anton Chekhov

Upcoming racing:

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Team NTT Pro Cycling to be Team Qhubeka Assos

The team sent me this release:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 20, 2020/ -- Douglas Ryder, the South African founder of NTT Pro Cycling (, is thrilled to announce the next step in our team’s incredible journey, which sees us moving forward in partnership with the leader in performance cycling apparel, ASSOS of Switzerland, to create Team Qhubeka ASSOS.

NTT Pro Cyclong

The team (shown at the start of the 2020 Tour de France) is saved and will race as Qhubeka Assos in 2021. Sirotti photo

Since founding the team, Ryder’s ultimate dream has been to use the profile and success the team has developed on cycling’s global stage to promote its purpose: changing lives through bicycles together with Qhubeka Charity.

This call to action has been keenly felt by our riders, staff, partners and fans across the world and seen our team raise funds for more than 30 000 bicycles for distribution to Qhubeka programmes in South Africa.

From 2021, our team –  which has formerly ridden as MTN, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and most recently NTT Pro Cycling – will be in the exciting position to further advance this movement by racing to raise awareness of the mobility challenges that occur throughout communities in Africa.

Team Principal Douglas Ryder said: “I am really happy to have gained the support of some incredible people and partners including ASSOS of Switzerland who have stepped in to be a headline sponsor. To be able to recreate the team as Team Qhubeka ASSOS talks to exactly what we continue to strive for, and that is to be a purpose-led, high-performance racing team. The last few weeks have been incredible seeing all the comments from fans in terms of how this team has connected with them in different ways. I am so happy we can continue to create hope and opportunity through our team and with Qhubeka Charity.

“I look forward to welcoming new partners to Team Qhubeka ASSOS as we plan and prepare for a new season in 2021 in a world that has been so heavily impacted by the pandemic. The bicycle continues to be a tool to change the lives of so many people for commuting, for sport, for health, for freedom and access. Our team has always been about much more than victories, but we do love to win.”

“I also want to pay a special tribute to our staff. Those in the sport know just how difficult it is, so to see the diligence, care and professionalism they’ve shown throughout gives me inspiration, every day. We truly are a family,” Ryder concluded.

Derek Bouchard-Hall – ASSOS, CEO:
“We have really enjoyed being part of this mission driven team – Qhubeka’s slogan that “bicycles change lives” could not inspire us more. And ASSOS has always been and continues to be deeply entwined in professional cycling – we were really moved by the opportunity to support the sport during the COVID crisis by keeping this important team part of the pro peloton.”

Roche Maier – ASSOS, Board Member Chief ASSOS Creative Design Centre:
“We love the mission, the people and the challenge that comes with it. We are made in cycling and contributing to support and further develop the pinnacle of high-performance cycling is just the proper thing to do, especially in these uncertain times.

"Team Qhubeka ASSOS is not a traditional sponsorship but will be operated as the lighthouse of the Assos Worksteam. Our team will be used and abused to push boundaries of product development and stress tests to yet another level. We thank Douglas for the opportunity.”

Tsatsi Phaweni – Qhubeka, Executive Director:
“Qhubeka has developed a relationship with Doug Ryder and his team that spans more than a decade and is founded on our shared belief that bicycles change people’s lives for the better.

"We have huge respect for all they have achieved to date and look forward to continuing to cheer them on in 2021 and beyond. We remain grateful for their continued support of our work and for all their efforts to raise funds and awareness for Qhubeka, along with their fans, sponsors and the broader cycling community. Together, we can change more lives with bicycles, and so we wish them every success.”

A special thanks to our partners: ASSOS of Switzerland, BMC, Mercedes Benz, Supersport, Rotor, Selle Italia, Tacx, Garmin, OTE, Morgan Blue, Vittoria, Compresssport, KMC, Vida e Café, Solrx, Lumin Sports, EME.Italy, Hyperice, Scicon, ASG, Elite, Burgt Reclame, L’Avenir and APO Group.

Further details and announcements related to the team will be made in due course.

Brent Bookwalter and Tsgabu Grmay sign with Mitchelton-SCOTT for another season.

American Brent Bookwalter and Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay have both signed one-year extensions with Mitchelton-SCOTT for the 2021 season

The team sent me this news:

The pair both joined the outfit in 2019 and are valuable, experienced contributors to the team’s stage race and Grand Tour ambitions.

Brent Bookwalter:
Date of Birth: 16 February 1984 (36)
Nationality: USA
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2019
New Contract: 2021

Despite the interrupted year, Bookwalter began to settle into the Mitchelton-SCOTT set-up in his second season with the team.

The veteran had a stand-out performance for seventh at Strade Bianche, his best one-day result, and can also be credited for successful team performances at Ruta del Sol (Jack Haig second) and Tirreno-Adriatico where Simon Yates took the overall victory.

“All things considered with this crazy COVID-19 altered year there’s a lot of positives that I’ve been able to take from the season. It was another year settling in with the team; I feel more at home, more synced up with the team, coaching staff, performance staff and my teammates and I think that showed out on the road.

“I’m proud of the team performances I did, supporting Jack Haig at Ruta del Sol and I felt like I was an integral part of Simon Yates’ big win at Tirreno-Adriatico.

“Individually, the big positive for me was the ride I put together at Strade Bianche. I think it was my best single-day result at a WorldTour one-day race and to do it off the back of the shut down so especially positive and important to me. Becoming a dad this year I was challenged at home and with training to figure out how I was going to put that together and to come out of the break with such a strong ride at Strade Bianchi was really encouraging and inspiring for the coming years.

“For 2021, I just want to keep continuing where I left off this year, heal up this back injury that I finished the season with at the Giro and then get back to work, helping the team to realise their big goals of trying to win another Grand Tour and put wins on the board in general."

Head Sport Director Matt White on Brent Bookwalter:
“Brent is an experienced campaigner, he is a valuable older statesmen for the younger, up-and-coming guys and whatever race program we chose with Brent next year, he is going to be of value to the group in general.

“He is still has ambitions to achieve things for himself and also in his role as a worker for our leaders throughout the calendar.”

Tsgabu Grmay:
Date of Birth: 26 August 1991 (29)
Nationality: Ethiopia
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2019
New Contract: 2021

Grmay continued to show his dedication as a team player during the 2020 season, playing a role in the outfit’s success at the UAE Tour and Coppa Sabatini. The Ethiopian finished his season at the recent Vuelta a España and is looking forward to building towards yet another year with the Australian outfit.

Tsgabu Grmay

Tsgabu Grmay time-trialing in the 2019 Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

“I am so happy to continue with the team again next year. I am comfortable in this team; it has a really amazing atmosphere with each rider and staff.

“I am always excited for racing with my teammates and having a great time, that makes my job easier and makes me love my job. I am so lucky to be part of it again next year and looking forward and would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity for the next year also.

“I will do my best to help the GC guys and to do whatever the team need me to do and put me to work for. I am really ready and I will work and fight so hard for it.”

White on Grmay:
“Tsgabu is committed, he is a guy that you can see enjoys his role, he is a real team player and gives 110% every time he pins a number on.

“He has really gelled well with the group in the past two years and we’re looking forward to him playing that role again in 2021.”

BORA-hansgrohe extends with Martin Laas

The team sent me this announcement:

The Estonian sprinter’s contract has been extended by one year, which will see him take on greater responsibility in BORA-hansgrohe’s various lead-outs in future. ​​​​​​​

"It was certainly a difficult year to make the jump up to the WorldTour. Nevertheless, Martin did a good job. After the lockdown, he rode increasingly better and was able to win two stages at the Tour of Slovakia for us. He made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta, where he was integrated into the sprint train for Pascal. That also worked well and I think this role could be one of his strengths in the future. Although he is a fast man, he has very good endurance values for a sprinter, which is particularly beneficial for him as a lead-out rider. Martin also has a lot of experience and can thereby also support our newcomers.” - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

"I think that I’ve done well this year. Of course, the circumstances were not ideal and my race calendar, as with the other riders this year, became quite disrupted. Nevertheless, I received my chances and was able to make good use of them at the Tour of Slovakia. I am very happy that the team continues to have faith in my abilities. There is certainly further potential in me and I’m looking forward to working on my development together with BORA - hansgrohe. Their trust in me gives me enormous motivation.” - Martin Laas

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