VeloNews Gear Awards 2018: 3T/Aqua Blue Sport, breakup of the year
In its second season, Team Aqua Blue Sport made headlines when it committed to using 3T’s innovative Strada road bicycle, which features a 1X (single-chainring) drivetrain. It marked the first time a professional squad rode a 1X design.
The team started the season with a win at the Herald Sun Tour. Soon after, though, persistent mechanical difficulties frustrated mechanics and flummoxed riders. The team complained that the bicycles frequently dropped chains; one mechanical reportedly cost rider Mark Christian a chance to win stage 6 of the 2018 Tour de Suisse. According to an interview with founder Rick Delaney in the Irish Examiner, Aqua Blue Sport even had to borrow parts from other teams to keep the bikes running.
After the combination of equipment and sponsor issues, coupled with few race invites, Delaney decided to end his squad after 2018. In the final months of the season, he faced a dilemma: break the sponsorship with 3T and potentially face lawsuits for breach of contract, or dissolve the team prior to the season’s end. Delaney chose the latter, ending the fiasco just before the Tour of Britain.