'Lucky' Irvine hoping to make a splash with Aqua Blue
Former track world champion Martyn Irvine and four-time national road race champion Matt Brammeier are among the new signings confirmed by the Irish Pro Continental team Aqua Blue Sport.
Former An Post-Chainreaction rider Conor Dunne joins from JLT Condor along with 2015 Tour de Yorkshire winner Lars Petter Nordhaug, who signs on after two years with Team Sky.
Irvine, 31, announced his retirement from cycling in January and returned to work as a mechanic, but after a change of heart during the summer he will return to the road with the ambitious new Irish team, which will include Milan-San Remo, Amstel Gold and the Tour of Britain on their race list for 2017.
"It took a really special offer to coax me out of retirement," said Irvine. "But the opportunity to compete at this level with an Irish-backed team is something I couldn't pass up. Very few Irish athletes get the experience to ride at this level so I feel very lucky to be getting this opportunity and not just about competing but being part of what Rick (Delaney) is trying to achieve."
The Aqua Blue team has been established by Cork businessman Delaney, who has guaranteed the financial backing of the team for the next four years, with two-year contracts for the riders. Delaney, who is based in Monaco, is behind the domestic team that races under a similar name. The team aims to compete at World Tour level be 2020 and ultimately the Tour de France.
Tour de France stage winner Nicki Sorensen will be on board as a sports director along with Irishman Tim Barry. The team are believed to have signed at least 10 new riders, with further details to be revealed soon.
Sharapova to learn fate
Maria SHARAPOVA will learn the result of her appeal against a two-year doping ban this afternoon, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)has announced.
Five-time grand slam champion Sharapova admitted in March that she tested positive for meldonium at January's Australian Open.
Sharapova argues that she had been using the Latvian-made heart disease drug under medical advice for a decade and had not realised it had been added to the WADA's banned list in January.
But an ITF disciplinary panel dismissed this saying there had been numerous warnings issued to athletes about meldonium becoming a prohibited substance in late 2015.