Irish cycling team Aqua Blue to stop operations
First ever Irish team to ride the Vuelta a España will be no more from next month
Team Aqua Blue’s Conor Dunne celebrates winning the National Road Racing Championships. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
A year after it became the first Irish team to ride the Vuelta a España and the first to win a stage in that Spanish Grand Tour, the Aqua Blue Sport team has announced the project is coming to an end. When first launched it envisaged becoming a top-ranked WorldTour team within four years and, with that, riding the Tour de France. However those plans are now over.
“We, Aqua Blue Sport, started this project over two years ago with huge ambition, gusto and optimism that we could actually make a difference,” it said in a statement. “This year we have found it increasingly difficult to obtain race invitations and recognition from race organisers in how unique and how well supported our project should be.”
Another source of frustration was the inability to work out a new deal with the Vérandas Willems-Crelan squad, something which Aqua Blue team owner Rick Delaney felt would secure its future. “Aqua Blue Sport cycling team have been negotiating tirelessly with another Pro Continental team regarding an acquisition/partnership,” it said. “Over the past weeks we had formed the basis of an agreement many times, but unfortunately common sense did not prevail.
“We believed on numerous occasions that the deal was so far advanced that it was a foregone conclusion that a partnership would be achieved. Today, August 27, 2018, we now find ourselves in a position where we can categorically state that all negotiations have been terminated.”
The team features two Irish riders. They are national road race champion Conor Dunne and Eddie Dunbar, who was second on Sunday’s final stage of the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir. Both are due to start the Tour of Britain on September 2nd, which is now thought to be the team’s final outing.