Ex-pro Robbie Hunter’s sports management company ProTouchGlobal has set up a new Continental team for 2021, Nippo-Provence-PTS Conti.
EF Education First and Cannondale are also on board as co-sponsors, suggesting that the development squad will be linked to WorldTour team EF Pro Cycling. The American squad have been heavily linked with Nippo as a future co-sponsor.
Nippo-Provence-PTS Conti will have a 12-rider squad for 2021, with former Katusha pro, 26-year-old Russian Matvey Mamykin, the most high-profile rider to join. He’ll combine forces with four Swiss riders, two Ethiopians, two Frenchmen and a rider each from Japan, Norway and Poland.
Former Swiss national coach Marcello Albasini – father of recently retired WorldTour pro Michael – will manage the team.
“This is a great opportunity for our roster of young riders,” he said in a team press release. “I am looking forward to working with them and our team of sponsors to build something special for the future.”
The Swiss-based team has drawn Japanese construction company Nippo and the conglomerate of southern French businesses Provence away from ProTeam Nippo Delko One Provence, which has been engulfed by crisis in recent months. Dutch sports staffing platform ProTouchStaff (PTS) is also on board as a named sponsor.
The news of the Provence group of sponsors joining the new team will come as a further blow to the ailing Nippo Delko One Provence squad, which has been the subject of UCI proceedings following several complaints over unpaid wages during the 2020 season.
In November, the governing body confirmed to Cyclingnews that it had initiated proceedings against the team’s paying agent Rainbow Pro Cycling, led by team manager Philippe Lannes, relating to the UCI bank guarantee.
Three riders at the team – Jose Gonçalves, Atsushi Oka and Masahiro Ishigami – have been told that they won’t be on board for next year despite having contracts for 2021, while Japanese rider Atsushi Oka reported he had been evicted from the team house and been told that he would receive no support in 2021. Lannes denied that riders had not received their salaries and claimed that the UCI had not contacted him directly.
Lannes’ apparent actions against the team’s remaining Japanese riders – Hideto Nakane is moving to EF Pro Cycling – appear to have come about as a result of Nippo ending their sponsorship with the team at the end of the season.
There is a further conflict involving Hunter and Lannes. Cyclingnews reported last month that Nippo Delko One Provence rider Dušan Rajović, a client of Hunter, has since been told to change agents in order to obtain an improved contract.
Nippo-Provence-PTS Conti 2021 roster
- Hagos Welay Berhe (ETH)
- Jonathan Bögli (SUI)
- Fabio Christen (SUI)
- Jonathan Couanon (FRA)
- Luca Jenni (SUI)
- Iver Knotten (NOR)
- Kevin Kuhn (SUI)
- Matvey Mamykin (RUS)
- Robin Meyer (FRA)
- Hijiri Oda (JPN)
- Bazaye Redae Tesfu (ETH)
- Szymon Tracz (POL)