An Post-Chain Reaction founders Sean Kelly and Kurt Bogaerts have confirmed that the team will not compete in 2018 after failing to find a title sponsor. However they hope to return in 2019 if a new backer can be found before next summer.
An Post confirmed it would end its long-time sponsorship earlier this year but Kelly and Bogaerts were hopeful of finding new backers for the Irish Continental team. Kelly and Bogaerts have admitted that Brexit and the political situation in Catalunya had impacted the decisions of interested sponsors.
"Unfortunately, time has worked against us to secure a sponsorship agreement before the October 31st deadline to compete in 2018. However, we continue to look towards 2019 and the goal of advancing to the Pro Continental level with enthusiasm," Kelly and Bogaerts wrote in a statement.
"Considering the team's strong links to Spain and the United Kingdom, the implications of Brexit and the political scenario in Catalunya impacted the decisions of interested parties but we remain undeterred. Our next objective is to secure a collaboration with a suitable sponsor by July of next year with the hope of returning to the International peloton with a strong and dedicated roster of talented riders."
Thanks for unrelenting encouragement and good will
Kelly used his famous name and success during his career to help promote the team and help riders, while Bogaerts acted as team manager, attending many races with directeur sportif Niko Eeckhout and Neil Martin. The two thanked An Post and the other team sponsor for their support and highlighted the names of some the riders, including several from Ireland, who have gone on to have success in WorldTour and Professional Continental ranks.
"It has been our pleasure to work with talented riders and to see them succeed and develop. We created an environment which nurtured honest hard work combined with determination," Kelly and Bogaerts wrote.
"This facilitated the progression of Irish riders like Sam Bennett, Ryan Mullen, Conor Dunne and Matt Brammeier, each of whom made the transition to the top levels of our sport, along with riders from other nations such as Gediminas Bagdonas, Aaron Gate, Shane Archbold and our most recent success story Przemek Kasperkiewicz."
Bennett now rides for Bora-Hansgrohe and won 10 races in 2017. Mullen is the 2017 Irish national road race and time trial champion and will ride for Trek-Segafredo in 2018.
"We would like to thank our fans and supporters for their unrelenting encouragement and good will towards the team and look forward to giving you something to cheer for again in the not too distant future," Sean Kelly and Kurt Bogaerts concluded.