Irish Professional Continental cycling team Aqua Blue Sport, founded by Rick Delany, has been invited to participate in two of cycling’s spring classic races, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallone.
Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who organises both events, earlier this week announced Aqua Blue Sport’s inclusion in the two April classics.
La Flèche Wallonne was first held in 1936 and is part of the Ardennes Classics. The 2017 route sees it traverse 200.5 kilometres across the hilly Belgian region of Walloon before finishing atop the iconic Mur de Huy. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of cycling’s five great one-day classics known as ‘Monuments’. Known by the name La Doyenne, or The Old Lady, the race was first held in 1892, and is seen as the last race of the spring classics.
The 81st edition of La Flèche Wallone will take place on April 19 and the 103rd running of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will take place on April 23.
Commenting on the announcement of his team’s inclusion in the races, team owner and founder, Rick Delaney, said the team are humbled and honoured to be part of these great races for the 2017 season: “I want to thank the ASO for giving us this opportunity to take part in these events. All of us with Aqua Blue Sport, the riders and staff, are honoured and humbled that we would be considered by ASO to be invited to take part.”
Delaney has guaranteed financial backing for the team for four years, with rolling two-year contracts for the riders. By removing the added burden of financial uncertainty, his aim is to create a rewarding team culture with athlete welfare firmly at its heart.
The Aqua Blue Sport riders are supported by a top tier backroom team composed of Head of Performance Nicki Sørensen, Sporting Director Tim Barry; Performance Directors Leigh Bryan and Stephen Barrett; Team Doctor Alan Farrell and General Manager Stephen Moore.
The ultimate goal for Aqua Blue Sport is to participate at a World Tour level by year four and compete in the Tour de France, but for now sights are firmly set on the 2017 Professional Continental season.