Ex-Aqua Blue riders still owed ‘thousands’

UCI bank guarantee not enough to cover outstanding debts of the former team

Aqua Blue’s former riders and staff are still in the red (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Image credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Riders and staff from the Aqua Blue team are still owed “thousands” six months after the team folded as the UCI continues to pursue the team’s backers for cash.

The UCI holds a bank guarantee for all WorldTour and Pro Continental teams to cover the pay for riders and staff in the event of a team folding.

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In November millionaire team owner Rick Delaney told Cycling Weekly: “The fact of the matter is that every single rider that was under contract has been paid for 2018 and every rider who was under contract for 2019 has either found something else, or, in the case of Conor Dunne, I have supported.”

But the UCI has confirmed that the guarantee was not enough to cover the outstanding payments owed to riders and staff: “The entire amount held by the UCI has been distributed according to the UCI Regulations. We can also confirm that the bank guarantee was not sufficient to cover all claims and that amounts were distributed proportionately among riders and staff members. The UCI waived most of its normal fees due under its regulations in such instances.”

It added: “The UCI can also confirm that it is pursuing the team and the guarantors of the team’s financial wellbeing for the full amounts due to the riders and staff, unpaid fees due to the UCI and unpaid contributions due to the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation.”

The sport’s governing body did not elaborate on the amount owed but a former team source said most riders were owed sums “in the thousands”. Delaney declined to comment.

Doping confession

The news comes as the team’s only WorldTour race winner Stefan Denifl, who won a mountain stage of the Vuelta

a España riding for Aqua Blue in 2017, confessed to blood doping. According to a report in Austrian newspaper Tiroler Tageszeitung, Denifl was arrested in connection with a long-running investigation into German doctor Mark Schmidt and the Austrian public prosecutor said the 31-year-old had confessed to blood doping in a hearing last Friday.

Last week, police raided 16 properties and arrested nine people in connection with blood doping in the Nordic skiing World Championships in Austria. Video footage emerged after the raids showed Austrian skier Max Hauke allegedly being interrupted by police in the middle of a blood transfusion.

Denifl started his career with Pro Continental team Vorarlberg in 2006 and rode for Cervélo Test Team, ELK Haus-Simplon, Leopard-Trek, Vacansoleil-DCM and IAM Cycling before joining Aqua Blue in 2017.

Denifl was due to move to the new CCC Team for 2019, but in December the team announced it was terminating his contract due to “personal reasons”.

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Vern Pitt

Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.