Vuelta invite a dream realised for Aqua Blue
Aqua Blue Sport owner Rick Delaney says the team have realised a dream after earning a wild card invite for this year's Vuelta a Espana.
The Irish ProContinental team have hit the ground running in their first season and while they wait for their first victory, their aggressive racing has already helped to earn them invites to the high-profile races like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour de Suisse.
Aqua Blue will make their Grand Tour debut when the Vuelta lines up in the French town of Nimes on August 19 ahead of 21 stages covering a gruelling 3,297km until the race finishes in Madrid on September 10.
American rider Larry Warbasse is the only member of the team to have competed in last year's Vuelta, while riding for I Am Cycling.
"We dreamed about trying to perform at the highest level and we hoped that we might achieve a World Tour start at some point in the future," said the Cork businessman Delaney, who's currently based in Monaco.
"It is an emotional moment. I dreamed of a Grand Tour start and now it has been realised. Three months in to our first season we have a Grand Tour invite.
"I believe it is very important to dream and this is evidence that dreams do come true.
"We are delighted and humbled to have received this incredible honour so early in our time."
General manager Stephen Moore said that the team are ready to take the big leap into Grand Tour racing.
"We will be putting together a strategy to give our Irish and international fans a lot to cheer about when the race begins," he said.
Meanwhile, their Irish riders Matt Brammeier and Conor Dunne are part of the eight-man team that returns to action at the Three Days of De Panne today. Irish sprinter Sam Bennett also lines out for Bora-Hansgrohe.