Irish team Aqua Blue Sport are final Professional Continental squad to receive licence for the 2018 season, bringing the total to 27 squads in the UCI's second tier

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Irish pro cycling team Aqua Blue Sport have received their Professional Continental licence from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), completing the list of 27 teams in the UCI’s second tier – up from 22 in 2017.

The team’s licence was listed as ‘under review’ by the UCI when it published the list of Pro Continental teams on Monday, December 11. The UCI then confirmed that the team had received its licence in a brief statement issued on Thursday.

In order to be awarded a licence, teams must meet criteria set out by the UCI’s licence commission. These comprise ethical, financial and administrative criteria.

>>> Aqua Blue Sport’s new team bike unveiled for 2018, and it’s only got one chainring

It will be Aqua Blue Sport’s second season in the Pro Continental ranks, after the squad made their debut in 2017.

They earned a wildcard place at the Vuelta a España and scored a victory when Stefan Denifl won stage 17. Denifl also won the Tour of Austria overall, with the team’s Larry Warbasse winning a stage of the Tour de Suisse.

The team has confirmed that it will kick off its 2018 season at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia on January 28. The squad unveiled its new team clothing on Wednesday.

British rider Andy Fenn in 2018 Aqua Blue Sport kit. Photo: Aqua Blue Sport

Six new teams will join the Pro Continental ranks for 2018: Burgos BH (Spain), Euskadi Basque Country (Spain), Hagens Berman Axeon (USA), Holoweski-Citadel (USA), Rally Cycling (USA) and Vital Concept Club (France).

Just as in 2017, there are no British-registered squads at Pro Continental level.

Professional Continental squads sit in the tier below top-level WorldTour teams, and can be invited to the biggest races – such as Grand Tours – via wildcard selections.

>>> Could Aqua Blue Sport be set for a ride at the Giro d’Italia in 2018?

UCI Professional Continental teams for the 2018 season

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec (Italy)
Aqua Blue Sport (Ireland)
Bardiani-CSF (Italy)
Burgos BH (Spain)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Spain)
CCC Sprandi Polkowice (Poland)
Cofidis, Solutions Credits (France)
Delko Marseille Provence KTM (France)
Direct Energie (France)
Euskadi Basque Country (Spain)
Israel Cycling Academy (Israel)
Pro Cycling Breizh (France)
Gazprom-Rusvelo (Russia)
Hagens Berman Axeon (USA)
Holoweski-Citadel (USA)
Manzana Postobon (Colombia)
Nippo-Vini Fantini (Italy)
Rally Cycling (USA)
Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij (Netherlands)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Belgium)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team (USA)
Vital Concept Club (France)
Veranda’s Willems Crelan (Belgium)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Belgium)
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Italy)
WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic (Belgium)