Larry Warbasse is among 16 confirmed riders to join a startup, Ireland-based Pro Continental team for 2017.
The 26-year-old American was holding out for a contract to keep him at the top level of cycling following the closure of his IAM Cycling team at the end of this season. He found a new home with the Aqua Blue Sport team, set to debut at the Pro Continental level next season.
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“It’s not often you get an opportunity to join a project from the start, especially one as ambitious as this,” Warbasse said in a press note. “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.”
The team is backed by Irish businessman Rick Delaney, who has guaranteed financial backing for the team for four years and provided two-year contracts for the riders. Ex-pro Nicki Sorensen will join as sport director.
Several other big names from the WorldTour have signed on, including Lars Petter Nordhaug and Andrew Fenn (both Sky), Adam Blythe (Tinkoff), Matthew Brammeier (Dimension Data), and both Leigh Howard and Stefan Denifl, from IAM Cycling that closed after it was unable to find a co-sponsor.
Delaney said in light of its quality signings, the team hopes to have an immediate impact with results, and has a long-term plan to step up to the WorldTour level within four years.
“We are an ambitious team and want Aqua Blue Sport to be in with a chance of winning races from the outset,” Delaney said. “We are delighted with the strength in depth of riders that we have assembled and believe we have the ability to make an impact from the outset in 2017.”
The team hopes to earn wildcard bids to race in such events as Milano-San Remo, Amstel Gold Race, and the Tour of Britain.