Former world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine has expressed disappointment after learning that his return to racing will be delayed under UCI rules.
Irvine retired from the sport last January but then had a change of heart. A two year contract with the new Aqua Blue Sport team was announced on October 3, and since then he has been working hard in advance of his debut with the team.
However on Friday the squad said that UCI testing rules required that all those coming back from retirement should be in the testing pool for six months. Irvine will be unable to compete until April.
“I was really looking forward to getting on the road with Aqua Blue Sport,” the Ards rider said to CyclingTips on Friday. “I’m really disappointed about missing the early season races. Unfortunately it is just a matter of timing from when I signed with the team.
“These anti-doping rules have to be followed and there is nothing that can be done. I’m still putting in the miles training and I expect to be back racing in April.”
In a team statement Aqua Blue Sport explained the situation as it pertains to Irvine.
“The UCI Rules and Regulations Governing Anti-Doping in Sport contained in Part 14 Anti-Doping Rules, 5.7.1 Retired Riders Returning to Competition states: ‘If a Rider in the UCI Registered Testing Pool retires in accordance with the UCI Testing & Investigations Regulations and then wishes to return to active participation in sport, the Rider shall not compete in International Events until the Rider has made himself or herself available for Testing, by giving six months prior written notice to the UCI.’
“Martyn is required to fulfil this notice period before returning to competition. This is to facilitate the building of a profile as part of the Athlete Biological Passport.”
It said that he will continue to train in the meantime prior to making his racing debut in April.
The team is the first-ever Irish Pro Continental squad. It has inked contracts with riders such as Lars Petter Nordhaug, Adam Blythe, Andy Fenn, Lasse Norman Hansen, Leigh Howard, Larry Warbasse, Calvin Watson, and Matt Brammeier.
In an interview with CyclingTips in October, team owner Rick Delaney spoke about the early targets.
“Our ambition will be to get starts in the Amstel Gold, Milan San Remo, Tour of Britain, Tour of Yorkshire and Eneco Tour next year,” states team owner Rick Delaney to CyclingTips. “We won’t get any Grand Tours, but obviously in 2018 we would like to get a Grand Tour start. And obviously the other one day Classics, some of the lesser known Tours.
“It is going to be a very strong team. Our team will win races.”
He also spoke about his desire to ride the sport’s biggest event.
“The plan will be in three to four years to apply for a WorldTour licence. Before then, we will be aiming for a wildcard invite to the Tour de France.”