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'It's just a track bike with gears': Adam Blythe criticises 3T Strada for Aqua Blue's demise

Joe Robinson
3 Sep 2018

Former national champion cites 1x bike as chief reason behind team's sudden decision to disband

Less than a week from the sudden disbanding of Irish ProContinental team Aqua Blue Sport, one of the team's former riders, Adam Blythe, has pinpointed the team's use of the 1x-specific 3T Strada bike as the chief reason leading to the team's demise.

Speaking on The Bradley Wiggins Show on why he thought the team had folded, Blythe left little to interpretation by answering, 'It was probably the 3T bikes, to be honest.

'[3T] makes good handlebars but terrible bikes. We have been on one chainring all year ain't we? So, it's just terrible.'

Aqua Blue Sport announced last week that it would not reapply for a ProContinental license in 2019. However, things then went from bad to worse when it was confirmed that Aqua Blue would cease competing with immediate effect, pulling out of the Tour of Britain just days before its start on the weekend.

As well as a lack of invitations to WorldTour races, many also cited the team's volatile relationship with its bike provider 3T for the abrupt decision.

Team owner Rick Delaney continuously cited mechanical issues with the 1x 3T Strada as the reason for lost results throughout the season, specifically at the Tour de Suisse, when he compared the team to 'lab rats' in their use of the bike.

Cyclist then received an anonymous email (which was also sent to a number of other cycling publications) claiming that 'it had gotten to the point riders are refusing to ride on 3T bikes again, racing for national teams on different frames and signing pre-contracts with other teams and reporting bikes to the UCI in order to break existing contracts'.

Delaney's complaints have since been repeated by a number of the team's riders, with Blythe now adding to their number.

The former British national champion said that racing at professional level with the lack of gear options provided by the 3T Strada had undoubtedly harmed their performance and held them back from the start of the season.

'It's just a track bike with gears on it. There's only one chainring so imagine you are riding a climb. You usually have a 39 [inner] ring to drop down to but [with the 3T Strada] you have a 10-40 cassette with a 50 tooth chainring,' explained Blythe.

'You're knackered. You cannot race one-day races on them let alone one-week or two-week stage races.'

Blythe will now join 14 of his teammates in a frantic search for a contract for the 2019 season. The former Orica-GreenEdge and Tinkoff rider had no pre-warning of the decision to stop racing and had been under the impression the riders would be turning out for the Irish team next season. 

'It’s just gone to crap basically, that’s it – it's just done. The owner’s pulled out of the team and just ended it, so that’s it, we have no more races until the end of the season.' said Blythe.

Blythe did confirm that the team's riders would at least be paid until the end of the year, but said his focus was now on trying to move on from this disastrous situation as quickly as possible.

Alongside the team's riding personnel, Aqua Blue's staff of team directors, mechanics and soigneurs will also now need to find alternative employment come 1st January 2019. 

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