Bryan Keane/INPHO
Aqua Blue

Ireland's first professional cycling team to cease operations at the end of the season

Aqua Blue will not be applying for a pro licence for the 2019 season.

IRELAND’S FIRST PROFESSIONAL cycling team, Aqua Blue Sport, will go out of the business at the end of the season.

Financially backed by Cork-born businessman Rick Delaney, the team was founded in 2016 but confirmed on social media today that it has reached the end of the road.

The Monaco-based Delaney said back in May that he had invested €7m in the project but added that it was generating “nowhere near” enough revenue to become cycling’s first self-sustaining team.

Delaney revealed at the time that the second division team would need to reach out to third-party sponsors for the 2019 season.

Earlier this month, Aqua Blue released a statement claiming to have accrued Belgian outfit Vérandas Willems–Crelan but it proved to be premature: the latter insisted they remained in talks with the Irish team about an amalgamation for the 2019 campaign, but were yet to reach a concrete conclusion.

Aqua Blue’s statement this evening, however, confirmed that there would be no amalgamation with another Pro Continental team and that they will not be applying for a pro licence next term.

“We, Aqua Blue Sport, started this project over two years ago with huge ambition, gusto and optimism that we could actually make a difference,” the statement began.

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.

“Aqua Blue Sport cycling team have been negotiating tirelessly with another Pro Continental team regarding an acquisition/partnership.

“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, 27 August, 2018, we now find ourselves in a position where we can categorically state that all negotiations have been terminated.

“We are extremely proud of our achievements over the past two seasons and made history in being Ireland’s first professional cycling team, first Irish team to participate in a Grand Tour and first Irish team to win a stage at a Grand Tour,” the statement continued.

“We have had the pleasure of making many friends on the journey.

“I guess it’s fair to say that we have made some fundamental mistakes, and errors of judgement, ultimately bringing our ‘on road’ ambitions to an unfortunate end. We are, of course, not going to give up with our passion of becoming a sustainable cycling team.”

Irish champion Conor Dunne and promising young gun Eddie Dunbar are among the talent currently on Aqua Blue’s books.

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The Monaco-based Cork millionaire behind a unique Irish sporting project

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