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Aqua Blue forced into bank guarantee after September wages not paid

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Larry Warbasse of Aqua Blue Sport at the Vuelta a Burgos

Larry Warbasse of Aqua Blue Sport at the Vuelta a Burgos
(Image credit: Team Aqua Blue Sport)
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(L-R) Leigh Bryan, Rick Delaney and Stephen Moore

(L-R) Leigh Bryan, Rick Delaney and Stephen Moore
(Image credit: Team Aqua Blue Sport)
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Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark and Team Aqua Blue Sport

Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark and Team Aqua Blue Sport
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Thumbs up from the Aqua Blue team on their new bus

Thumbs up from the Aqua Blue team on their new bus
(Image credit: Team Aqua Blue Sport)
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The Aqua Blue Sport team rode aggressively

The Aqua Blue Sport team rode aggressively
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

Riders and staff at Aqua Blue Sport will have to rely on the team's UCI bank guarantee in order to receive their wages for the final four months of the 2018 season. The team failed to pay their dozen-plus riders and staff last month and have informed them that they must now complete forms before they can be paid both wages and expenses.

Under UCI rules, teams must pay a bank guarantee before the start of each season in order to have their licence validated by the governing body. The amount of the guarantee must equal 25 per cent of the team's payroll.

On Monday morning, Aqua Blue riders and staff were notified by email that they must complete forms and send them back immediately in order to process the payments relating to their outstanding wages from September.

The email, from Aqua Blue's CEO Tom Timmerman, states:

"As communicated earlier, payment of salaries and expenses will be managed through the UCI drawing on the ABS bank guarantee. Although we have been working and communicating with the UCI since end August, and provided them with all the data to make the necessary payments, only this weekend we have received there [sic] final reply on the process to follow. As a result, you will now need to fill attached form, send it back to me for validation and I will pass on all validated forms to the UCI, who in their turn will execute payment.

"Please, in order to get swift payments, please send the filled forms back as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding, and apologies for the delay, but it has been completely out of our hands. Best regards."

In August, the Irish team announced that they would be folding, with the Tour of Britain expected to be their last race. However, within just a matter of days those plans were scraped and staff were notified by email that the team would be folding with immediate effect.

The Tour of Britain was removed from the race calendar and riders were notified that they were hence released from the contracts and allowed to find alternative teams. Eddie Dunbar was quickly signed by Team Sky but, while a few other riders have been able to find employment for 2019, a number of the team remain on the transfer market.

The team had been in negotiations with Sniper Cycling over a possible merger with Wout Van Aert's Veranda's Willems-Crelan team for 2019. A deal was announced in August but was quickly denied by the Belgian outfit, who have since had their own management and merger issues with the Dutch Roompot team. 

Timmerman would not return messages or calls from Cyclingnews. Rick Delaney, who set the team up in 2016 but disbanded the operation this summer, was not available for comment.