Just weeks after the folding of the Aqua Blue Sport team, Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar has signed for Team Sky with immediate effect.
Having been left without a clear future or race programme, it is understood that the sports governing body (UCI) granted Dunbar an early release from his contract with Aqua Blue in order to join Sky.
The 21-year old from Banteer, Co Cork, admits he was relieved to have agreed terms with the prestigious British team after what have been a rocky few weeks.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity I’m getting after the situation I’ve found myself in,” said Dunbar.
This is a great opportunity for me to spend the last few weeks of the season with a team I’ll be riding for next year.
“It will make the transition a lot easier."
When news broke on August 1 that Aqua Blue was stopping, Dunbar kept a cool head and focused on finding a new team. With the world championships in Austria now just weeks away, he will aim to build form by targeting a selection of races in Italy and will make his debut in the Sky colours at the Coppa Agostini tomorrow.
Sometimes a team folding is the way the sport goes. I just had to be professional about it and understand the situation. Luckily Sky came along and they offered me a block of Italian races which is good preparation for Innsbruck.
This will be a big step for Dunbar, who just a few short years ago was riding in the colours of Kanturk Cycling Club under the guidance of his coach Dan Curtin.
Tomorrow he will begin racing for one of the most successful cycling teams in history, alongside Tour de France champions Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
It’s really helpful to have this opportunity to familiarise myself with everything, especially the riders and the staff, ahead of next season. It’s all fallen into place for me — and I can’t wait to get started now.
Team Sky principal David Brailsford said Dunbar has been on his radar for some time.
“We have been watching him for a while and it’s clear that he has great potential. He particularly impressed at the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour de l’Avenir this year and we hope he can build on those performances with us,” said Brailsford.
A strong climber and capable time-triallist on his day, Dunbar has the qualities to be a stage racer and Brailsford is of the view that Dunbar can form part of the long-term strategy at the team.
“Eddie is a talented young rider and we’re delighted he’s agreed to join us,” he said.
“Obviously the circumstances, with Aqua Blue folding, aren’t ideal for anyone at the team, or the sport in general. You never like to see teams go through something like that. But we’re pleased to be able to offer Eddie an immediate route back in with Team Sky.
“We’re looking forward to integrating him into the team during the remainder of 2018, allowing him to hit the ground running in 2019, and hope he can form a part of our next generation as we continue to build for the future.”