Manama : Bahrain yesterday pulled the wraps off the hugely anticipated new ‘Bahrain Merida Cycling Team’, declaring its ambition to become the ‘Home of Cycling Sport’ with Vincenzo Nibali as its star rider.
The team was officially unveiled by HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, representative of His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, President of Bahrain Olympic Committee.
The event attended by the team’s cyclists and technical staff as well as representatives of sponsors was held in the presence of Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil, Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Governor of Southern Governorate, Hesham bin Mohammed Al Jodar, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs and other invited guests.
Addressing the gathering, Shaikh Nasser said, “The idea of forming this team was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s the result of more than two years of planning and thinking.”
“I am a very keen to have Bahrain featuring in international competitions.”
“This sport is covered by many international media outlets, thus Bahrain will greatly benefit from such great coverage,” Shaikh Nasser said while revealing his ambition to highlight Bahrain’s image via promoting the team on international venues and underlining his good relationship with the world champion Nibali.
Shedding light on the strategic vision and long-term goals, Shaikh Nasser said, “After we have successfully taken this step, our beloved country will definitely become the “Home of Cycling Sport”.
Unearthing new talents is one of main aims in the establishment of the team.
Shaikh Nasser pointed out that the growth of the sport in Bahrain will strongly contribute in realising this dream. “Our Kingdom has many talents who can achieve great results in any sport. To have top international bicycle racers will allow Bahraini cyclists to blossom and flourish,” Shaikh Nasser said.
Going further, Shaikh Nasser said the team also aims to promote healthy lifestyle in the society.
The sport can be practiced by the public from both genders, Shaikh Nasser said.
The team will feature in all the races organised by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The season begins with races in Argentina and Spain which will commence later this month.
Other announcements of the races will be made later after coordinating with UCI, Shaikh Nasser said.
27 Bicycle Racers
Bahrain Merida Cycling Team will be represented by internationally-recognised 27 cyclists, headed by Italian champion Vincenzo Nibali.
The team also has top international trainers and a fully-equipped staff, in addition to a qualified medical team.
Team Manager Brent Copeland added, “We in Bahrain Merida Cycling team are paying attention to the details. We have many professional cyclists supported by a top technical team. Our ambitions are great. We always want to be on top and win grand tours.”
Meanwhile Wolfgang Renner, CEO of Merida Company, the international firm specialised in manufacturing bicycles, expressed his pride at partnering with Bahrain, stating that the launch of this team represents the realization of one of the company’s ambitions.