Mark Christian and Adam Blythe set for Vuelta a Espana debuts with Aqua Blue Sport

Irishman Conor Dunne also selected for maiden Grand Tour

Manx rider Mark Christian will make his Grand Tour debut after being named alongside former British champion Adam Blythe in Aqua Blue Sport’s Vuelta a Espana line-up.

Christian, 26, stepped up to UCI ProContinental level this year and finished seventh at the Tour de Yorkshire, and has been rewarded for his performances with a place in the Irish team’s first ever Grand Tour squad.

Blythe, 27, will also ride the Vuelta for the first time, after a series of narrow misses in 2017 – the Yorkshireman started the year in the national champion’s jersey and has now recorded four second-place finishes without topping a podium.

He has previously ridden the Giro d’Italia on three occasions, but has never started the Vuelta – with this year’s race his first Grand Tour since 2013.

Aqua Blue Sport’s nine-man line-up for the Vuelta a Espana includes Adam Blythe, Mark Christian and Conor Dunne (pic – Aqua Blue Sport)

Giant Irishman Conor Dunne, 25, will also make his Grand Tour debut, having made a successful step up from JLT-Condor this season.

American champion Larry Warbasse, a stage winner at the Tour de Suisse, Tour of Austria winner Stefan Denifl and Tour de Suisse King of the Mountains Lasse Norman Hansen are also selected.

New Zealand track star Aaron Gate and Dutch duo Michel Kreder – who was third at the Arctic Race of Norway and fifth at the Tour de Wallonie – and Peter Koning complete the line-up.

And ambitious Aqua Blue Sport owner is dreaming big ahead of the Irish team’s first Grand Tour, for which they are wearing a limited edition white kit.

“We dreamed at the start of the year that we would get a start at a Grand Tour – to think that has come to fruition is extraordinary,” he said.

“The team we are sending is a very strong, solid team with riders who can compete on all terrain.

“We are looking forward to seeing Aqua Blue Sport out on the roads and who knows, we might just pull off the ultimate dream – a stage win. Watch this space.”

Christian and Blythe’s selection takes the number of Brits set for the Nimes start line to six, alongside Adam and Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), pre-race favourite Chris Froome (Team Sky) and his team-mate Ian Stannard.

Blythe is riding a Grand Tour for the first time since 2013 (pic – Aqua Blue Sport)

Hugh Carthy (Cannondale-Drapac) was cut from his team’s shortlist, however, having just finished 15th overall at the Colorado Classic.

There will be one rider of note to British fans in the Cannondale-Drapac squad, however, with former Raleigh and Madison-Genesis star Tom Scully set for his Grand Tour debut.

Dunne will be one of two Irishmen at the race, meanwhile, with BMC Racing’s Nicolas Roche the other.

Aqua Blue Sport for Vuelta a Espana 2017

Adam Blythe (GBR)
Mark Christian (GBR)
Conor Dunne (IRL)
Stefan Denifl (AUT)
Aaron Gate (NZL)
Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN)
Larry Warbasse (USA)
Michel Kreder (NED)
Peter Koning (NED)

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