Aqua Blue Sport, Ireland’s first Professional Continental cycling team, has today revealed a further seven riders set to join its ranks for the 2017 season.
Amongst them, and fresh from the 2016 season, are former Swiss World Tour team IAM Cycling teammates Stefan Denifl and Leigh Howard. They will be joined by Dutchmen Michel Kreder (29) and Peter Koning (25), New Zealander Aaron Gate (25), Australian Calvin Watson (23) – one of the youngest riders on the team, and Dane Lasse Norman Hansen (24).
Having turned professional ten years ago and placing 4th in the mountains classification of the 2016 Giro d’Italia, Austrian Denifl (29) will bring experience of Grand Tour high mountain battles to the team. The seasoned pro said he was looking forward to sharing the benefit of his World Tour experience with the younger riders on the team.
“We have to grow and fight as a team and success will come with that,” he said.
“Personally I am looking forward to a good preparation for 2017 and a year where I will be at my best. I am highly motivated to achieve my goals and the team’s goals, on and off the bike.”
The chance to be involved in Aqua Blue Sport from inception was something which also held great appeal.
Denifl commented, “From first contact onwards, the people behind this team have shown great motivation, professionalism and a new vision for a cycling team.”
“I feel that Aqua Blue Sport believes in me as a rider and as a person, and this is the environment that I want for my future development.”
Australian sprinter Leigh Howard (26) brings an impressive list of palmarés to the Aqua Blue Sport rider roster, strengthening the squad’s ability to contest sprint finishes. But as with many of his new teammates, Howard insists that success for him in 2017 won’t necessarily be measured by his tally of race wins, but by the achievements of the team as a whole.
“I want to win races of course, but cycling is a team sport so success comes from a team point of view,” he said.
“For Aqua Blue Sport success won’t just mean podium places – we’re a new name so we’ll need to prove ourselves, and prove that we deserve to be up there as a pro team.”
With fond memories of racing in Ireland, Howard is also enthused by the prospect of donning the jersey of the first Irish UCI Pro Continental team.
“I love the idea of being part of an Irish team – I raced in the Tour of Ireland in 2009 and absolutely loved every minute of it, apart from the rain. To be a part of the first pro conti team to come out of Ireland is really exciting, even though I’m not Irish!” he said.
The seven new riders will join team leader Lars Petter Nordhaug and Irish trio Martyn Irvine, Matt Brammeier and Conor Dunne who were announced last week.
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2017 Aqua Blue Sport Ireland Lars Petter Nordhaug leigh howard pro continental stefan denifl