Aqua Blue Sport enjoyed a stellar 2017 season that culminated in its first grand tour stage win, but this year the team have missed out on a number of major races and will not get to start the Tour de France or a number of other major races.
ASO have unveiled their wildcard selections for the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Criterium du Dauphine and Paris-Roubaix. The Aqua Blue Sport team, which features former Commonwealth Games track champion Shane Archbold and former world omnium champion Aaron Gate, are currently getting ready to begin their Australian campaign. The team will race the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – with Shane Archbold expected to start – before taking on the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. From there the Dubai Tour and Tour of Oman await.
But a grand tour start in 2018 has so far eluded the team. Hopes were high that after their strong performance at the Vuelta a Espana – which resulted in Stefan Denifl winning stage 18 – they might secure a place at the biggest and most prestigious bike race of them all; the Tour de France. But instead Direct Energie, Cofidis, Fortuneo-Samsic and Dion Smith’s Wanty-Groupe Gobert outfit have secured the wildcard berths.
It’s a similar story in both Paris-Nice and Criterium du Dauphine, with Cofidis, Delko-Marseille and Fortuneo-Samsic set to go to the former, and Cofidis, Fortuneo-Samsic, Vital Concept Cycling Club and Wanty-Groupe Gobert getting the nods.
Similarly Paris-Roubaix on 9th April will also go without the Irish outfit, as race organisers have opted to side with all French-Belgian wildcard entries in Cofidis, Delko Marseille, Direct Energie, Fortuneo-Samsic, Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, Vital Concept Cycling Club and WB Aqua Protet Veranclassic.
There is still time to find out who will get the nod for the Vuelta a Espana and whether Aqua Blue Sport will get to return to the race that proved so successful for them. Wildcard announcements are also yet to be made for both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The Giro d’Italia has already announced its wildcard entries for this year’s race which includes the Israel Cycling Academy outfit of Hamish Schreurs in an otherwise all-Italian wildcard selection as is typical. The Israel Cycling Academy will also start Tirreno-Adriatica and Milan-San Remo but for Aqua Blue Sport there will be no racing at these events either as they’re set to miss the Giro, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche.