Aqua Blue Sport riders in limbo after team collapses
Racing and sponsorship woes force Irish team’s immediate closure
Aqua Blue Sport is the latest in the long line of cycling teams to face extinction after links to possible mergers fell through and the team collapsed last Monday.
Manxman Mark Christian was one of the riders to receive the surprise announcement via an email from team boss Rick Delaney.
“It came as a shock; I don’t think anyone saw it coming,” he said. “I woke up and was having my porridge and an email came up from the actual owner saying ‘please see attached regarding team’.
“It said how they set out with certain goals and how we have had a good two years and then out of nowhere it says the Tour of Britain will be the team’s last race.
“By the time I had finished reading that email it was all over social media,” said the 27-year-old. The initial promise of a ride at the Tour of Britain was extinguished hours later as the team pulled out and seemingly won’t take to the road again, leaving Christian and many of his team-mates in limbo for next year.
“I’ve been in contact with a lot of teams already and had a mixed response because it’s quite late in the day,” Christian said. “There are spaces going — it’s just about being in contact with as many as possible. When it comes out of the blue like this it’s difficult to suddenly switch on and start going for teams out of nowhere.”
Aqua Blue has had a year to forget, having received no Grand Tour invitations, or even an offer to ride the Tour of California, despite having US road star Larry Warbasse on its books. There has also been a falling out with bike sponsor 3T after Aqua Blue boss Delaney criticised 3T’s single-ring groupset on Twitter, saying: “this lab rat thing is costing results”.
For many, the team’s demise won’t come as a surprise, but hindsight won’t help riders like Christian. He must now battle to save his ambitions of riding the World Championships later this month in Austria. The disappointment of missing out on the TOB is two-fold as it also jeopardises his Worlds selection. Christian is on the
“It came as a shock — I don’t think anyone saw this coming”
longlist, but the other 15 riders on it are all racing at the Vuelta, Tour of Britain or in Canada in the lead-up to Innsbruck.
“The Tour of Britain was the ideal window to show my form and put myself forward for selection,” Christian said. “But I’m carrying on training as if I’m going to do the Worlds.”