2016 British National Road Race champion Adam Blythe is one of five final riders named today as having signed for Aqua Blue Sport, the new Professional Continental cycling team founded by Irish businessman Rick Delaney. He will be joined on the team roster for 2017 by Larry Warbasse, Andrew Fenn, Mark Christian and Daniel Pearson.
Blythe (26), joins the team on the back of an impressive run of form adding a 12th place finish in the Men’s Elite Road Race in the recent World Championships in Doha to his British national title. He joins Aqua Blue Sport from World Tour team Tinkoff, where he played a key role in supporting Peter Sagan in this year’s Classics.
Warbasse (also 26), the first US rider to join Aqua Blue Sport, joins from Swiss outfit IAM Cycling. Previously with BMC, Warbasse has gained extensive Grand Tour experience including three editions of the Vuelta a España and one of the Giro d’Italia.
Former U23 British Road Racing Champion Fenn (26), joins Aqua Blue Sport from Team Sky, having spent two seasons with them as a sprinter, his primary role being to bolster fire power in the early season Classics.
Isle of Man native Christian (25), brings to the team a strong pedigree on both road and track. He joins from Team Wiggins having been there since 2015. Also making the move from Team Wiggins is Welsh climbing specialist Pearson, who notched an impressive 12th place in the 2016 Tour of Croatia.
Speaking about his decision to join Aqua Blue Sport Blythe said: “Signing with Aqua Blue Sport offers me a great opportunity to get the most out of myself in 2017, and to have the support to be able to do that. My goal for next season is to win bike races. It is exciting to get young and hungry guys behind you, and to be on a smaller team where you are all trying to get the most out of each other in every race you are competing in.”
Warbasse also expressed his excitement about being part of Aqua Blue Sport saying: “It’s not often you get an opportunity to join a project from the start, especially one as ambitious as this. Each and every member of this project has a unique opportunity, as it is not only on the bike successes that define us. I hope to make an impact off the bike as well as on it, in building the future of Aqua Blue Sport.”
These signings bring to 16 the number of riders confirmed as having signed with Aqua Blue Sport for the 2017 season joining team leader Lars Petter Nordhaug, Martyn Irvine, Matt Brammeier, Conor Dunne, Stefen Denifl, Leigh Howard, Michel Kreder, Peter Koning, Aaron Gate, Calvin Watson and Lasse Norman Hansen in completing the 2017 roster for Aqua Blue Sport.
Commenting on the announcement Aqua Blue Sport Principal, Delaney said: “We are an ambitious team and want Aqua Blue Sport to be in with a chance of winning races from the outset. We are delighted with the strength in depth of riders that we have assembled and when considered alongside the support system we have put in place around them believe we have the ability to make an impact from the outset in 2017. We are getting very excited about the start of the season.”
Founded by Irishman Rick Delaney, the vision for Aqua Blue Sport is long term. Delaney has guaranteed financial backing for the team for four years, with rolling two-year contracts for the riders. By removing the added burden of financial uncertainty, his aim is to create a rewarding team culture with athlete welfare firmly at its heart.
The Aqua Blue Sport riders will be supported by a top tier backroom team composed of team Director of Performance Operations, Leigh Bryan, Dr. Alan Farrell as Team Doctor, former Irish international cyclist Stephen Barrett as Director of Athletic Performance and Nicki Sørensen, formerly of Team Tinkoff-Saxo and Tim Barry as Sporting Directors. Stephen Moore will serve as General Manager.
The ultimate goal for Aqua Blue Sport is to participate at a World Tour level by year four and compete in the Tour de France, but for now sights are firmly set on the 2017 Professional Continental season which hopefully will include races such as Milan-San Remo, Amstel Gold and the Tour of Britain.
Adam Blythe, 26, is the 2016 British National Road Racing Champion. Blythe began his career on the track where he notched a strong of notable victories as a youngster, including national U16 pursuit and scratch titles and two European Junior titles in the team pursuit (2005 and 2006).
Shifting his focus to the road in 2007, Blythe cut his teeth in continental racing with a Belgian feeder squad before making his professional breakthrough in 2009, joining Silence-Lotto as a stagiaire. He moved to BMC Racing Team in 2012 and to British Continental outfit NFTO in 2014, with whom he took first place in that year’s Prudential RideLondon Classic.
A switch back to World Tour level with Orica GreenEDGE followed in 2015, before Blythe found a home for 2016 with Tinkoff, where he played a key role supporting Peter Sagan in the Classics, as well as winning the British National Championships. Blythe recently finished 12th in the Elite Men’s Road Race at the 2016 UCI World Championships in Doha.
Larry Warbasse, 26, is the first US national to sign with Aqua Blue Sport. Warbasse joined BMC as a stagiaire in 2012 and as a full World Tour pro the following year, with his first Grand Tour ride coming in the 2014 Vuelta a España.
Warbasse saw action in the 2015 and 2016 Vueltas with Swiss World Tour outfit IAM Cycling, also competing in the 2016 Giro D’Italia. Notable results include a stage of the 2014 Tour de Suisse, eighth place overall in the 2015 Bayern Rundfahrt and seventh overall in the Tour of Poland 2016, the latter being for him a standout achievement as he was battling to regain fitness following injury.
Andrew Fenn, 26, a former U23 British National Road Racing Champion, has risen through the ranks of the professional peloton since first joining the An Post-Sean Kelly development team in 2011 when he also won a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships.
Stepping up to World Tour level in 2012, Fenn spent three years with the Omega Pharma – Quick Step squad, with whom he recorded a strong of notable results in his first year including wins in the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca and Trofeo Migjorn, a stage victory in the Tour of Beijing and 4th place in the Belgian one-day race GP Impanis – Van Petegem.
A sprinter and rouleur who can drive a leadout train, Fenn spent the past two seasons in the colours of Team Sky, with a primary focus on bolstering team firepower in the spring Classics. He joins Aqua Blue Sport having shown strong form in the 2016 season, including third place in the British National Road Racing Championships (behind winner and new teammate for 2017, Blythe).
Mark Christian, 25, cut his teeth in cycling on the track. His years in the velodrome delivered a long list of impressive results, including two gold medals in the 2008 Junior National Track Championships, silver in the team pursuit at the 2009 U23 European Championships, bronze in the 2010 Commonwealth Games points race and team pursuit bronze in the 2011 Beijing World Cup.
In 2012, Christian joined the An Post – Sean Kelly team where strong results including 12th place in that year’s Volta Limburg Classic. In 2014, he joined Team Raleigh taking second place in the following year’s Beaumont Trophy. A return to the track in 2014 saw him take two gold medals at the World Cup in London, in the team pursuit and madison events, as well as silver in Mexico. For the last two years he has split time between the track and the road riding with Team Wiggins having signed with them in 2015.
Dan Pearson, 22 from Wales joins Aqua Blue Sport for his first year as a professional rider, having spent 2016 with Team Wiggins. Pearson brings continental-style racing experience to Aqua Blue Sport, having previously spent two years in Italy with esteemed development outfit Zalf. His best results to date have come from European races, particularly the Giro Valle d’Aosta in which he placed fifth in 2015 and eighth in 2014.