Aqua Blue Sport’s Stefan Denifl latest rider to sign WorldTour contract after team’s collapse

Denifl picked up Aqua Blue’s only Grand Tour victory before the team folded

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Stefan Denifl is the latest Aqua Blue Sport rider to move from the collapsed team to the WorldTour.

Denifl will be returning to the highest level with CCC Team, the Polish outfit taking over from BMC Racing.

The Austrian picked up Aqua Blue Sports only Grand Tour victory during it’s short existence at the 2017 Vuelta a España.

CCC Team general manager Jim Ochowicz said: “Stefan had a breakthrough year in 2017 with a stage win at the Vuelta a España and overall win at the Tour of Austria and we believe he can reach his potential with CCC Team.

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“Stefan has showed that he is capable of winning races and will be a valuable team-mate at stage races and Grand Tours.

“Stefan brings a wealth of experience to the team and will be an asset at the Ardennes Classics and the hillier Monuments, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia.

“We are looking forward to seeing what Stefan can do next year and we are excited to welcome the first rider from Austria, which is a key market for CCC, to the team.”

Irish team Aqua Blue Sport collapsed suddenly ahead of the Tour of Britain earlier this year.

After just two years racing Aqua Blue Sport announced they would be closing, with management blaming a failed merger, equipment sponsors and race organisers.

The closure left a 16-rider roster without contracts, including Brit Adam Blythe, Ireland’s Conor Dunne and American Larry Warbasse.

Denifl said: “The end of Aqua Blue Sport was a big blow for all of us.

“I was under contract until the end of 2019, so I wasn’t talking to any teams.

“The rider market that late in the season is always complicated so I’m very happy to sign with CCC Team.

“It is an international squad with strong riders, good staff and a solid structure in place, as well as an impressive new sponsor on board and top material.

“Although my race programme isn’t yet determined, the Giro d’Italia would be really cool and it is my dream to race the Tour de France one day.

“Racing at the WorldTour level means there are so many good racing opportunities so I am excited to return to this level.”

The 31-year-old raced at WorldTour level previously with IAM Cycling, which folded at the end of 2016.

Other riders from Aqua Blue who have found themselves WorldTour contracts include Larry Warbasse who will join AG2R La Mondiale and Adam Blythe who heads to Lotto-Soudal.

Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar moved from the collapsed outfit to Team Sky at short notice earlier this year.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.