Lars Petter Nordhaug and Matt Brammeier join new Irish Pro Continental team for 2017

Connor Dunne and Martyn Irvine are also among the first riders to sign for the new Aqua Blue Sport team

Lars-Petter Nordhaug attacks from the chase group to try and catch the eascape group ahead. He was reeled back in, but finished the race in ninth spot - Sky's highest-placed rider.

(Image credit: Graham Watson)

WorldTour riders Lars Petter Nordhaug and Matt Brammeier have been announced among the first riders to sign-up for Ireland's first ever UCI Pro Continental cycling team, Aqua Blue Sport.

Norwegian Nordhaug joins from Team Sky after two seasons, in which he took victory at the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, while Irishman Brammeier makes the step down a level from Dimension Data.

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The team will also bring fellow Irishman and former scratch race world champion Martyn Irvine out of retirement, while Conor Dunne will move teams from JTL-Condor to link up with the squad in 2017.

The team was established by Irish businessman Rick Delaney with the aim of competing in cycling's top tier, the UCI WorldTour, by the fourth year of their run with Delaney guaranteeing financial backing for that period.

Aqua Blue will debut at Pro Continental level in 2017, and have already suggested that they could ride Milan-San Remo, Amstel Gold and the Tour of Britain in their first year at Pro Continental level.

"Since the first time I have spoken with the team I have been really impressed with the way they think, with their approach to managing the team and with the entire philosophy behind it," Nordhaug said.

"At this stage in my career I really believe that this philosophy will help me to be the best rider I can be and to focus on delivering the performances that I know are in me. That’s why I chose to join Aqua Blue Sport."

The team have also confirmed a number of support staff for the project, including former Tinkoff rider and Tour de France stage winner Nicki Sørensen as director of athletic performance.

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