New challenge for Sorensen at Aqua Blue Sport

Directeur sportif hoping new Irish Pro-Continental squad can secure Tour de Suisse invite

Former professional Nicki Sorensen is onto his third team as a directeur sportif at Aqua Blue Sports following prior stints with Tinkoff and Cycling Academy Team.

The newly created Irish Pro-Continental team made its racing debut Down Under at the one-day WorldTour Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and then the Herald Sun Tour with Sorensen calling the shots from the car.

Describing the squad for the Australian races as "very committed and a highly disciplined set of riders," Sorensen ensured one of his men infiltrated the breakaway on each and every road stage of the Herald Sun Tour. While the team was unable to record a maiden victory, Sorensen's riders were consistently on the front foot as three top-three stage results suggest, setting an early standard for the team to follow in 2017.

"We have fun but at the same time we are aware of our tasks, what we need to be doing," Sorensen told Cyclingnews of the team ethos.

Team owner Rick Delaney hasn't shied away from his ambitions with Aqua Blue Sport, expressing his desire to see the team line out at the Tour de France. The ambitious team owner signed up several WorldTour riders from the 2017 season to bring his dreams into reality, assisted by his four-year minimum backing.

As a first-year Pro-Continental squad, early runs on the board are crucial to securing race invites and building a profile. To ensure the long terms goal of a Tour start is achieved, short-term success is key to Aqua Blue Sport and thus far Sorensen has had no issues in getting the message across to his riders to perform and record results.

"We all have our roles and my role is to always motivate them so I will do that no matter what. They have been on it and I haven't felt like there have been those issues in that regard," he said. "These riders we have here, a lot of them already have a lot of experience as bike riders so it's kind of easy work for me in that regards."

Aqua Blue Sport's February racing calendar is likely to be one of the most challenging logistically with squads racing in Australia, Dubai, Oman, Italy, France, and Belgium. While the team has secured starts at races such as Tour of Oman, Classic Sud Ardèche, La Drôme Classic, Three Days de Panne and a handful of "Belgian semi-classics", the aim is to get starts at WorldTour events in 2017.

Delaney has previously name-checked Amstel Gold, Milan-San Remo and Eneco Tour as key races for which he was seeking an invite with early-season results sure to keep Aqua Blue Sport in the discussion over wild card starts. For Sorensen, his "big goal" is to secure a start at the Tour de Suisse in June and "go for a stage victory" in what would be his first return to the race since 2001 and milestone for Ireland's first Pro-Continental squad.

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