Irish Pro-Continental squad Aqua Blue Sport will line out for its debut Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana with a special edition white kit. The team has ridden in a blue and gold kit during its inaugural season but has made the change in tribute to the wild card invitation it received.
The Vuelta a Espana starts August 19 with a team time trial in Nimes and concludes September 10 in Madrid.
"We are all incredibly honoured to be taking part in La Vuelta and to mark the occasion we have decided to make a one off white jersey," team GM Stephen Moore explained. "Our gold chevron, so visible in this year's peloton, will remain an integral part of our jersey and the blue will be there in the shorts. With the bright reflective quality of the white there is also the added benefit for the riders to deal with the high heat of Spain in August. We are really looking forward to showing our new colours and don't worry the blue and gold will be back for the rest of the season."
The team kit is made by Vermarc Sport with Tatjana Verbeek explaining the company enjoyed the challenge of designing the one-off kit for the squad.
"Vermarc Sport is very proud to be a partner of Aqua Blue Sport. We were delighted when we got the news that the team has been invited to the Vuelta this year," Verbeek. "Therefore we created a special white jersey with an ultra-light fabric. We cannot wait until Saturday to see the team perform in their new outfit."
While the team will be wearing the white kit, Larry Warbasse will be wearing his unchanged stars and stripes jersey as the US national road race title. A victory he claimed in June in Knoxville.
Two-year extension at QuickStep-Floors for Pieter Serry
Belgian Pieter Serry will continue with QuickStep-Floors through to at least the end of the 2019 season. The team announced a two-ye extension with the 28-year-old who turned professional in Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator before moving to the QuickStep set up in 2014.
An important domestique across the season for the team, Serry explained it was a simple decision to ink the new deal.
"I am very happy here, so it was a no-brainer to renew. After five years, this team is like a family to me, the professionalism of the guys here is incredible, and in the end it really wasn’t a question of staying or not. It’s an honour to ride for the best team in the world," said Serry.
Although he is yet to win a professional race, Serry has shown his ability with third at De Brabantse Pijl-La Flèche Brabançonne, seventh at Il Lombardia, and eighth at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. However, the Belgian explained his role is to help his teammates at the high end races and take his chances when they arise.
"I am here to help Quick-Step Floors, to control the peloton and to give my everything, it's what I am really good at," said Serry, who broke his collarbone in the spring. "Ok, due to bad luck, this season hasn't been the best for me, but next year I want to be there for our leaders in the big races, help them nab important victories and get my chance in the smaller ones."
Team CEO Patrick Lefevere explained that securing Serry was an important piece of transfer business and is looking forward to the extended deal.
"Pieter Serry is with us for five years now and we are glad he'll continue for two more," Lefevere said. "He is a rider you can always rely on, as he supports the team in every race, be it on the flat or on the climbs; his experience, determination and fighting spirit are qualities we prize and which make him an important member of our outfit."
Julian Alaphilippe, Fernando Gaviria, Philippe Gilbert, Bob Jungels and Maximiliano Richeze have also extended with QuickStep-Floors while Jhonatan Narvaez (Axeon Hagen Bermans) are Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis) are confirmed signings from 2018.
Stijn Vandenbergh to make return to racing
Stijn Vandenbergh hasn't raced since crashing out the Four Days of Dunkirk in May with a broken collarbone and heavy concussion, the Belgian makes his long awaited return to racing this month. The 33-year-old will start the Heusden Kermesse on August 15 and then line out at the UCI 2.1 Tour du Poitou-Charentes from August 22 to the 25th.
Vandenbergh is in the first year of his two year deal with AG2R-La Mondiale with his Dunkirk crash limiting his race days to just 22. Since turning professional with Unibet.com in 2007, he has raced over 50 races each season and will be challenged to continue his run in 2017.
Team GB announce Tour de l'Avenir team
British Cycling's senior academy men's endurance coach Keith Lamber is expecting big things of his team and continuing the success enjoyed by Britain at recent editions of the race.
"The Tour de L'Avenir, or the 'Tour of the Future' as it translates to, attracts the world's best development riders and is a big target for us on the racing calendar," said Lambert. "This will be the first time Jacob [Hennessy] and Ollie [Wood] have competed in this race and it will be beneficial for them as bike riders to experience a race of this calibre."
The 2017 edition of the race takes in more of France than previous years due to the Brittany start. Despite a shake up of parcours, Lambert remains confident his riders can make a mark on the race and snare a win.
"The race will be challenging, with the route covering a distance of 1,201km including 16,673 metres of climbing, and as such it offers learning opportunities to the team in terms of race preparation and recovery, as well as an opportunity to race against the best riders in the world within their age group," he added.
Team GB for the Tour de l'Avenir: Scott Davies, Jacob Hennessy, James Knox, Chris Lawless, Mark Stewart and Ollie Wood.