Aqua Blue Sport have pulled out of the Tour of Britain, informing the organisers with less than a week to go before the race starts in Pembrey Country Park, Wales on Sunday.
The team announced that it would cease to be in 2019 on Monday, leaving 16 riders and staff searching for work next year.
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A spokesperson from the race SweetSpot Group organiser commented on Tuesday morning: “Following the news yesterday that the Aqua Blue Sport will not race in 2019, we were informed last night by team management that they would not be able to fulfil their commitment to the upcoming OVO Energy Tour of Britain.”
“We are naturally disappointed at this late decision by the team, and that British fans won’t have the chance to cheer on the likes of Adam Blythe and Mark Christian next week. However we understand the difficult situation that the team is in and respect their decision.”
The organiser concluded by adding: “We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the riders and staff of the Aqua Blue Sport team all the best for the future. We will make no further comment at this time.”
The Irish registered pro continental team had been due to enter a squad of six riders, including Christian, Blythe, Eddie Dunbar, Conor Dunne, Larry Warbasse and Casper Pedersen.
Riders on the team – which supported Brits Blythe and Christian, plus Andrew Fenn and Daniel Pearson – only found out that the team would cease to be on the day of the announcement.
An appearance at the Tour of Britain may have given at least six members a platform to find future employment.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly after hearing the news of the team’s end, former U.S. Champion Warbasse said: “Hopefully there be options, but it is late and teams are filling up.”
“It’s good it’s not a month later. At the moment, I’m not sure what’s available.”
Team owner Rick Delaney had been working on a fusion with Nick Nuyens’s Veranda’s Willems-Crelan team – but this tie up never materialised.
Delaney set the outfit up with a unique model in mind, the aim being to use the team to promote its headline sponsor – the sports equipment website that uses an Amazon style set-up.
The end of the road was announced via a statement published on Twitter, which read: “Aqua Blue Sport cycling team have been negotiating tirelessly with another Pro Continental team regarding an acquisition/partnership.”
“Over the past weeks we had formed the basis of an agreement many times, but unfortunately common sense did not prevail.“We believed on numerous occasions that the deal was so far advanced that it was a foregone conclusion that a partnership would be achieved.
“Today, August 27, 2018, we now find ourselves in a position where we can categorically state that all negotiations have been terminated.”