By Rick Delaney's own admission, the story is an odd one. On Wednesday Delaney's Aqua Blue Sport organisation announced that they had purchased Sniper Cycling, the company behind the Verandas Willems-Crelan squad. If the news came as a surprise it's because few - even some within Sniper Cycling - saw it coming.
Within a matter of hours the press release announcing the news had been pulled from Aqua Blue Sport's own homepage and social media channels. A denial from Sniper Cycling soon followed, with the team stating that: "We dissociate ourselves expressly from all communication that has been published today regarding the supposed acquisition of our team by Aqua Blue Sport. We can confirm that Sniper Cycling and Aqua Blue Sport are currently holding talks to look into possible collaboration from 2019 onward. Out of respect to all parties involved, we will currently refrain from further comments."
Then silence. However, Delaney has now told Cyclingnews that a development will be announced in the coming days. He would not confirm or substantiate as to whether any deal had taken place or if one would be announced, however he did say that the outcome would be positive.
"Unfortunately, I can't give you any clarity but in the next couple of days we'll disclose where we are all at. Unfortunately, I can't comment. Legally I can't say. Just wait a couple of days and it will be revealed [as to] what the master plan is. I'm happy to talk about something else," he told Cyclingnews.
When asked as to why his team's press release had been pulled, Delaney responded:
"Sorry, I can't comment. I don't think it's that important. People are making a story out of something that's all a bit trivial. All will be revealed. Legally there's a bit of an issue."
The Irishman, who launched his Pro Continental team in 2017, and who saw the squad earn a Vuelta a Espana wildcard invitation that year and win a stage, stressed that the outcome would be positive. Although, again, he gave no details as to what that meant.
"We've had to what we've done and they've had to do what they've done but all is good and there will be a positive outcome for both of us in the next couple of days. It's all positive, it's not negative. There's no bad story. It's nothing. It's just a work in progress."
"It probably does sound a little bit odd," he agreed when asked about the general situation.
"And on reflection it is odd but it is what it is, and I can't change that, unfortunately."
Delaney also added that he would be looking to strengthen Aqua Blue Sports for 2019. The team currently run a squad of 16 riders and are looking to increase their number for 2019. They had been in talks to sign Richie Porte, but the Australian will be announced as a Trek-Segafredo rider in the coming weeks.
"We are looking at strengthening the team. We've quite a few contracted for 2019. We'll run with a squad of around 18-20 riders. So we'll go up by around four. We're currently on 16 this year."
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