Irish UCI Professional Continental team Aqua Blue Sport, which yesterday revealed it was effectively folding after it said it would not be applying for a 2019 licence, has pulled out of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, which starts in Carmrthenshire on Sunday.
The news deprives the six riders selected for the race, including current Irish national champion Conor Dunne and past British champion Adam Blythe, as well as former US champion Larry Warbasse, of a shop window to try and find a new team for next season.
The line-up was only announced last week, and also included Mark Christian, Eddie Dunbar and Casper Pedersen.
The revelation that the team would not now be participating in the race was broken today in a statement on the OVO Energy Tour of Britain website:
Following the news yesterday that the Aqua Blue Sport will not race in 2019, we were informed last night by team management that they would not be able to fulfil their commitment to the upcoming OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
We are naturally disappointed at this late decision by the team, and that British fans won’t have the chance to cheer on the likes of Adam Blythe and Mark Christian next week.
However we understand the difficult situation that the team is in and respect their decision.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the riders and staff of the Aqua Blue Sport team all the best for the future. We will make no further comment at this time.
Launched ahead of the 2017 season by businessman Rick Delaney, Aqua Blue Sport aimed to become “the world’s self-sustained cycling team,” financed through revenue from its online marketplace that brings together independent brands and retailers.
In its debut season, it won a wild card entry to the Vuelta a Espana, taking a stage win thanks to the Austrian, Stefan Denifl.
Despite that success, no invitations to major races were forthcoming this year, and yesterday the team also blamed the failure of a planned merger with Verandas Willems-Crelan – something the Belgian team denied earlier this month had been agreed – for its decision not to apply for a renewal of its licence.
Earlier this year, Aqua Blue Sport was announced as the Official Online Retail and Digital Partner of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
While it is not currently listed among the race’s partners on the OVO Energy Tour of Britain’s website, clicking the ‘Store’ link takes internet users through to Aqua Blue Sport’s e-commerce site.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.