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Aqua Blue Sport rider spotted training on Ridley Helium and not 3T Strada

Joe Robinson
17 Aug 2018

Old photo shows Stefan Denifl was out testing his home World Championships course in Austria

Local favourite Stefan Denifl spent some time recently testing his legs against the Höll climb, the 3km road which looks set to decide the winner of this year's World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. With a maximum gradient of 28% and extended pitches of 25%, it should provide quite the spectacle after 248km of racing.

However, it is not the fact that Denifl was out riding the climb that caught our attention. Instead, it was that the Aqua Blue Sport rider can clearly be seen riding a Ridley Helium bike and not the 1x specific 3T Strada that the team riders are contracted to use.

Since the original post, Denifl has confirmed that the photo was taken in 2017, when Aqua Blue used Ridley bikes, although this in itself could cause issue.

The Austrian posted a picture of himself riding the steep climb that comes in the closing stages of this year's World Championships course.

In the tweet, Denifl writes 'How steep is 28% -> that steep' before sharing a photo which showcases the toughness of this climb.

Yet, it is clear to see from the photo that Denifl is aboard a Ridley Helium, the team's bike sponsor from last season, and not the 3T Strada or Strada Due, the two bikes the Irish team are contracted to use. 

It turns out that the photo was taken in 2017 but could cause concern considering the delicate relationship between team and bike brand.

Ongoing issues from the team and its owner, Rick Delaney, have been made public regarding the 1x specific bikes this season.

Aqua Blue Sport penned a deal with bike brand 3T last year to race upon its 1x Strada bike. This was a unique move in professional cycling as it would see the team restricted to just one front chainring.

Multiple mechanical issues have scuppered the opportunities of Aqua Blue Sport riders throughout the season and many have cited the unconventional 1x gearing as the route of these problems.

Owner Delaney has continuously taken to social media in order to criticise the bikes, even going as far as to suggest that the 3T bike was costing them results when Mark Christian fell foul of a mechanical at the Tour de Suisse in June.

On that occasion, Delaney went on to state that 'this lab rat thing is now costing results.'

Christian himself and teammate Adam Blythe have since gone on to social media to suggest that issues with the 3T Strada bike have affected races this season.

3T reacted to this adversity by releasing its Strada Due, a 2x version of the bike, stating that it would be made available to Aqua Blue Sport riders for use, however, it appears that Denifl has either yet to receive his Strada Due or decided to opt for his old Ridley.