Aqua Blue Sport will become the first Irish cycling team to compete in a Grand Tour after receiving a wild card invite for this year’s Vuelta a Espana.
The other teams who will line up alongside the 18 WorldTour teams are Cofidis, Solutions Crédits, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Manzana Postobon Team.
Aqua Blue Sport founder, Irish businessman Rick Delaney has hailed the invite as huge news for his young team.
He said: “We spoke in the team presentation at the start of the year about winning on and off the bike. 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.
“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. The Vuelta is a fantastic and historic event – for Aqua Blue Sport to be there is a fantastic achievement for such a young team.
La Vuelta 2017 starts in the French city of Nimes on August 19 with a spectacular Team Time Trial through the historic winding streets.
It will then, after a flat sprint stage, return to Spain where the riders will face the imposing climbs that has marked La Vuelta as a huge test of endurance. The race will eventually make its way to the finish in Madrid after 3,297kms over 21 stages.
AG2R La Mondiale (FRA)
Astana Pro Team (KAZ)
Bahrain – Merida (BRN)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Bora – Hansgrohe (GER)
Cannondale Drapac Professional Cycling Team (USA)
Lotto Soudal (BEL)
Movistar Team (ESP)
Orica – Scott (AUS)
Quick-Step Floors (BEL)
Team Dimension Data (RSA)
Team Katusha – Alpecin (SUI)
Team Lotto NL – Jumbo (HOL)
Team Sky (GBR)
Team Sunweb (GER)
Trek – Segafredo (USA)
UAE Abu Dhabi (UAE)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (ESP)
Aqua Blue Sport (IRL)
Manzana Postobon Team (COL)