– Everyone is disappointed, says Edvald Boasson-Hagen (33) to TV 2.
Monday night, it was called in for a general meeting in NTT Pro Cycling. The message that came from team owner Douglas Ryder at the video conference was far more dramatic than what Boasson-Hagen was prepared for.
– I have always been told that the team should survive, that we had sponsors in the box and that the only thing left was to sign the contract. That is why I have not stressed about the future, he says.
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But now it is clear that the main sponsor NTT will not continue the agreement from the new year. This means that the South African team is without anyone who can pay for the party. The future is thus anything but bright. And the riders are released from the contracts.
– It’s a little silly to get this message so late. The market is bad at the moment because of the corona and all the misery it has created. Many teams are uncertain about the future and many riders are now competing for a few contracts, says the 33-year-old – who is in his sixth season in the team called MTN-Qhubeka when he signed for the first time.
– Do you feel led behind the light by your own employer?
– It is a pity that they waited so long to say it, but it does not help to be angry, he answers diplomatically.
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After receiving the message two days ago, he has put some sensors on the market, without getting caught so far.
– I have people who help me with that bit, so I’m not very worried. But it is clear that it would have been better if we had been out earlier. I have faith that I will find a team, but it depends on the conditions you get. This is not ideal, Boasson Hagen realizes.
– Are you motivated to continue?
– Yes, I feel like it. I have been in the cycling circus for many years, but the plan is to continue. It would have been boring to have to give up because you do not get a team. But I imagine that will work out, he answers.
Boasson-Hagen is currently in Belgium, where he was to cycle the second leg of the BinckBank Tour on Wednesday. Due to stricter corona rules in the Netherlands, where the race was to stop by with a pace stage today, it was a quiet training trip instead.
– It is good to take into account the corona situation, but it is of course very boring. But we have become accustomed to this this year, he says to TV 2 from the hotel room.
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– Will it be the case that you have to use the next races to show yourself to potential new teams?
– It obviously helps with results, but cycling is a team sport. If everyone is now going to start driving for themselves, then at least things are not going well.
Boasson-Hagen can tell that the spirit is good among those gathered for the BinckBank Tour – where Rasmus Fossum Tiller and Gino van Oudenhove are also part of the NTT team.
– We try to drive well together, but it is clear that everyone is a little disappointed after the meeting on Monday. It is a pity for the support staff, sports directors and riders who now have to go on a job hunt. However, it is said that the team is still working on finding a new sponsor, so it may be that one is saved in the twelfth hour. That would have been the best thing.