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Aqua Blue Sport expected to miss out on Vuelta a Espana wildcard

Joe Robinson
24 Jan 2018

Three Spanish ProContinental teams and Cofidis set to receive wildcard spots for 2018 Vuelta a Espana

Despite a successful Grand Tour debut at the race in 2017, Aqua Blue Sport look set to be snubbed from the 2018 Vuelta a Espana with three Spanish ProContinental teams and Cofidis expected to be handed wildcard spots.

Reports suggest that the Vuelta is planning to invite all three Spanish ProContinental teams - Burgos-BH, Caja Rural and Euskadi Basque Country-Murias - with the fourth and final spot expected to be handed to French PrConti set-up Cofidis.

This will see Aqua Blue Sport miss out on an invitation to any of the three Grand Tours in their second year as a professional team having already been overlooked for the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

This will come as somewhat of a disappointment to the Irish ProContinental team who acted as major animators in the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

Having been present in most breakaways, the team received its just deserts with victory for Stefan Denifl on Stage 17 which finished atop the tough Los Machucos climb.

However this performance was seemingly not enough to warrant a return to the race.

It should come as no surprise that all three Spanish ProContinental teams will receive invites to this year's race, following the trend of the Giro - which invited three Italian PrcContinental teams to this year's race - to look closer to home when considering wildcard entrants.

Caja Rural have been invited to the race each year since 2012 yet for Burgos-BH and Euskadi Basque Country-Murias this will be their Grand Tour debuts.

The inclusion of Euskadi Basque Country-Murias will be a welcomed sight for the cycling purists. Their presence will mark the return of a Basque based team at the Vuelta since the disbanding of the famously-orange clad Euskatel-Euskadi in 2013.

The fourth spot unsurprisingly goes to Cofidis who also act as a main sponsor for the race. Cofidis have become a permanent fixture at the Vuelta despite having not taken a stage of the race since Daniel Navarro's Stage 13 victory in 2014.

The 2018 Vuelta a Espana will start on Saturday 25th August with a short individual time trial in Malaga before finishing in Madrid on Sunday 16th September.