New Irish pro team set for international peloton in 2017

Posted on: July 15th, 2016

Sean McKenna has jumped from the domestic scene with Team Aquablue to the An Post-Chainreaction team of late. But now it looks like Aquablue will have its own pro team next year, at ProContinental level.

 

The sponsors of one of the most prolific teams on the Irish scene, Team Aquablue, is expected to back a new pro team next year in which a number of Irish riders and staff will feature.

Stickybottle understands the new outfit will ride at ProContinental level and will have its base in the south of France.

While the finer details are still in the planning stages, it is understood the team is set to number about 16 riders including several from Ireland.

The rider roster is unclear at present but Sean McKenna, Stephen Clancy and Damien Shaw have all progressed from the Cork-based Team Aquablue set-up to Continental level teams.

Clancy has been riding for ProContinental level Novo-Nordisk in recent seasons while Shaw and McKenna are both currently with An Post-Chainreaction.

Conor Hennebry is currently riding with Team Aquablue and having won the Tour of Ulster this year he also won a race in Belgium earlier this week.

Performances like that could put him, and indeed others on the domestic scene, in contention for a place in the new Irish outfit, which will aim to develop young riders.

 

Damien Shaw rode with Team Aquablue, the Team ASEA before moving on to An Post-Chainreaction for this year.

 

If the team rides at ProContinental level, as now appears the case, it would still be eligible to compete in the An Post Rás once it was registered in Ireland.

While only teams in the third tier of pro cycling – Continental level – have ridden the Rás since it secured UCI 2.2 status, under UCI rules ProContinental teams can ride their national tour if it is a UCI 2.2.

Other races mooted for the team to ride next year include the Tour de Yorkshire and pro events in the Middle East, Continental Europe and the US.

The team could become a fantastic stepping stone for young Irish riders and indeed for those looking to pursue other careers in pro cycling.

Ireland already has one team in the international pro peloton in the shape of An Post-Chainreaction.

It competes at Continental level, the third of three tiers in pro cycling. The new Aquablue team looks set to ride at one tier higher; ProContinental. The highest level in the sport is WorldTour.

The new Irish ProContinental team will be sponsored by drinks distribution business Aquablue but is also expected to have several other backers.

Aquablue is owned by Monaco-based Cork businessman Rick Delaney who is the driving force behind the project.

Stickybottle understands when the Aquablue ProContinental team is established and takes its place in the pro peloton, the Team Aquablue domestic squad will continue.

It has been run for the last four years with Aquablue backing by team principal Tim Barry.

He is a former international rider who has won most of Ireland’s major races and competed abroad with Irish national teams and club outfits.

However, at the time of publication efforts to contact him were not successful. We’ll bring you more news when we get it.

 

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