Stickybottle

Aqua Blue Sport ends sponsorship but Irish amateur team to expand

Posted on: December 6th, 2017

Aqua Blue Sport

Aqua Blue Sport has ended its backing of the team. But the outfit is still looking to stay together and to expand, bringing in U23 riders to be mentored by its senior riders. Above, Anto Walsh in Rás Mumhan last year; his stage win there just one in a string of victories for the prolific squad.

 

Aqua Blue Sport ends sponsorship of amateur team

 

Currently focussed on preparing for its second year in the pro ranks, Aqua Blue Sport has ended its backing of its Irish amateur team.

The Aqua Blue Sport Academy enjoyed very significant success on the domestic scene this year.

Among a string of top results, Sean Lacey won the National Road Series and Matteo Cigala was Cycling Ireland’s top ranked A1 rider.

The team began as The Edge in 2009 and rode under that livery for two seasons.

It later secured the backing of Dan Morrissey. And in 2013 Aqua Blue, thanks to company owner Rick Delaney, became the title sponsor.

The Cork businessman began the Aqua Blue Sport ProContinental team last year and 2017 was its first team racing.

Once the pro team was established, the domestic outfit bearing the same name was rebranded as the Aqua Blue Sport Academy.

And while the sponsorship coming to an end is a surprise and no reason has been stated, the domestic outfit team is set to continue.

Team principal from the start, Tim Barry, went on to work for the pro team this year. He was not available for comment at the time of writing.

In his absence this year, former national team coach Frankie Campbell stepped into the manager’s role.

And now that the squad has lost its sponsor, Campbell has not been slow to use his commercial background to seek new backers.

He told stickybottle he had a discussion with the key riders in the team and they agreed they wanted to continue as a squad next year.

Campbell said he was currently making good progress in securing new backers.

“I said to the riders, let’s look at our contacts and see can we go and look for a sponsor; and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.

An announcement in that regard is imminent, with the team likely to have 12 riders in 2018.

In an interesting development it is adding four U23 riders. And that means the new team would be able to field line-ups in two stage races at the same time.

And with riders such as Cigala, Lacey, Ronan McLaughlin, Anto Walsh and Sean Hahessy in the team, the young guns will have a huge amount of experience and know-how to call upon.

Hahessy is now an established figure as a sighted pilot with the Irish paracycling team. And he is expected to continue with that set-up; the Olympic cycle for 2020 now in its early stages.

The team, in its various guises, has been very successful in progressing riders on to the pro ranks.

Stephen Clancy is now a seasoned pro with ProContinental outfit Novo Nordisk.

Conor Hennebry rode with An Post-Chainreaction this year and Damien Shaw and Sean McKenna rode for the team for the last two years.

Shaw and McKenna have now moved to the new Holdsworth team in the UK for next year.

We’ll have news for you soon on the sponsors replacing Aqua Blue. And we’ll also have the full roster of riders.

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