Team Aqua Blue Sport are thankful for the outpouring of support following the “massive loss” of their team bus on Wednesday night, which was set on fire ahead of the Vuelta a España‘s 12th stage.
The team rolled to the start this morning in Motril in a white and blue tourist bus with its normal special-equipped one still smouldering.
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“We’ve suffered a massive loss,” explained press officer Niall O’Connor. “But we’re working ahead and we’ve had a lot of support, particularly thanks to the race organiser for giving us this 52-seater bus. It’s not ideal but it gets us going.”
Aqua Blue are mid-way into their first Grand Tour, racing thanks to a wildcard invitation from organiser Unipublic.
Unipublic found the team a new bus ready for stage 12, but they could have a bus specifically suited for a cycling team on a Grand Tour as early as Friday for stage 13.
“We just received contact from someone who’s willing to give us a team bus,” continued O’Connor. “It’s not going to be an Aqua Blue bus but it’ll have the facilities that we need at the start and finish. This Vuelta is incredibly different so we need all the advantage that we can get.”
Sky and the other top teams sat in their air-conditioned buses gutted for extra space and equipped with extras like a WiFi hub.
The Aqua Blue team, which includes eight men now at the Vuelta, had to use the outside portaloo. They will make due without showers immediately after the finish on stage 12.
“It’s a bit of a down-grade from what we’re used to, but we’re making do with what we have and the race organiser been great helpful already given us a new bus,” said Mark Christian, who is racing his first Grand Tour.
“We’ll get sorted soon and we can get by with today’s bus. That’s been much appreciated and hopefully we can get by.”
A man is in custody for causing several fires last night. He reportedly lit a mattress and put it under the team bus, which was parked near the buses of team Astana and Bora-Hansgrohe. Police informed the team around 1:30 in the morning.
“They’ve arrested a fellow close to the scene and now he’s part of the criminal investigation,” said O’Connor. “Hopefully he will face the full wrath of the Spanish law and spends a lot of time in prison.”
“It sounds like it was completely random crazy man,” Conor Dunne said. “He was burning other things and not just our bus. It was just a random bizarre attack.
“Yes we lost a few shoes and things like that. A few helmets too. Just the normal things that we leave on the bus, but luckily I took my shoes out last night to wash them.
“It doesn’t really change anything we still have our bikes and that’s the main thing. It could have been a lot worse if they burnt the mechanic’s truck.”
“It was pretty stressful in the morning but for now it’s fine,” Lasse Norman Hansen said while outside buckling his shoes. “We have a new bus and it felt kind of a strange getting to the start.
“Many riders and other teams have asked if they can help and do anything for us. And the organiser was really quick and finding us a bus.”