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Vuelta a España wildcard teams confirmed; no room for Aqua Blue Sport

Joe Robinson
10 Apr 2018

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

The Vuelta a Espana has provided no surpises in its announcement of the four wildcard teams for this year's race, with Aqua Blue Sport missing out as expected.

In a tweet from the race organisers, it was confirmed that the four invitational spots were to be given to three Spanish ProContinental teams and Cofidis.

The three Spanish teams invited are Burgos-BH, Caja Rural and Euskadi Basque Country.

Cofidis's invite has become a formality in recent years. Despite the team underperfoming in terms of stage victories, its status as one of the race's major sponsor all but guarantees it a slot.

Home fans will be encouraged by the fact that the number of Spanish teams present at the 2018 Vuelta will have doubled from 2017 thanks for the inclusion of Burgos-BH and Euskadi Basque Country.

The big losers are Aqua Blue Sport. The Irish ProContinental squad rode last year's race and impressed, even managing a stage victory with Austrian rider Stefan Definl atop the steep Los Machucos. 

Despite success in their debut, they have been overlooked for the 2018 edition in favour of home-based teams, something team owner Rob Delaney feared earlier in the year.

This confirmation sees the Irish team miss out on a place at all three Grand Tours with them gaining no spot at the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France.

The real worry for Delaney's men will be their lack of clout in attracting invites to races in their second year of racing. Last week, it was also confirmed that Aqua Blue Sport would not be invited to the Tour of California despite having American road race champion Larry Warbasse.

Delaney branded this omission 'complete disrespect' to the national jersey and Warbasse himself.

Aqua Blue Sport's next major race will be Liege-Bastogne-Liege later this month, so far the only Monument or Grand Tour the team has been invited to this season.

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