The Aqua Blue Sport team are defiant in the face of adversity after their team bus was attacked by an arsonist overnight at the Vuelta a España. The team has told Cyclingnews that they are "not going anywhere" and that the "cowardly" attack will not prevent them from reaching the race's finish in Madrid next week.
The main focus now, say the team, is to make sure that the riders can get on their bikes and race while the management and backroom staff work to find a solution.
In their debut season, Aqua Blue Sport are riding their first Grand Tour after receiving a wildcard invitation to the Vuelta. The team was staying at the Tryp Indalo Hotel in Almeria when, at approximately 1:20 am, a mattress was placed under the rear of their team bus and set alight. The ensuing fire completely gutted the team bus but fortunately nobody was injured.
It was just the team bus that was attacked, so the riders' bikes and wheels are undamaged. However, there were spare bits of kit and helmets left on the bus overnight. The team is working with their sponsors to get replacements. The team is currently racing with special-edition white kit and helmet but will revert to their usual blue if it is deemed necessary. For now the riders are sharing out what they do have so that the team can compete in stage 12.
Vuelta a España organisers Unipublic, which is owned by Tour de France organiser ASO, has come up with a temporary solution to the bus problem. For Thursday's stage the team will use a 52-seater bus to get to the start and from the finish. Meanwhile, the team is working on getting a campervan that they can use for the remainder of the race.
Several teams have offered their support on social media, including FDJ, Katusha, Dimension Data, Caja Rural and more. Teams have also been in contact with Aqua Blue themselves and a small group has been formed to take care of this.
The team has said that this setback will not stop them racing their first Grand Tour.