BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team
With a number of adjustments in detail and some strong signings, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM is looking to follow up on its successful debut season 2017.
Built around Vincenzo Nibali, the only active pro cyclist to have won all three Grand Tours, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM got to celebrate some remarkable successes. From Ramunas Navardauskas’ win at the Vuelta a San Juan’s individual time trial in Argentina in January 2017 - the first victory aboard MERIDA’s WARP TT time trial bike in a high-level race - to Vincenzo Nibali’s classy win at the Classic Il Lombardia in October 2017, the athletes in red, blue and gold managed to ride into the spotlight at a lot of occasions. Vincenzo Nibali finished on the podiums at two Grand Tours in 2017, adding a 2nd place in the Vuelta a España’s overall standings to a 3rd place in the Giro d’Italia’s overall, winning a hard mountain stage in each of the two races. With 3rd places in the overall standings of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and at the Spanish road championships and strong rides at the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, Ion Izagirre showed his class before a hard crash in the Tour de France’s opening time trial forced him to finish his season in early July due to some broken vertebrae. Sonny Colbrelli won a rainy stage at Paris-Nice and the Belgian semi-classic Flèche Brabançonne. With top10 results at both the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race, the Italian sprinter showed his class in the spring campaign. Other highlights of the season 2017 were a spectacular and tactically cunning one-two for Giovanni Visconti and Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro dell’Emilia or Ion Ander Insausti’s win in the final stage of the Tour of Japan in Tokyo. And what other World Tour team has seen one of its riders compete at a fixed-gear race and win it? BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s young Spaniard Ivan Garcia Cortina did just that at the Red Hook Crit in Milano.
As for 2018, MERIDA’s R&D department has worked hard to further improve the team bikes, cooperating closely with team riders and equipment suppliers. One example for this is the METRON 6D handlebar and stem unit developed with FSA/Vision: Made of state-of-the-art carbon, this combo is both lightweight and extraordinarily stiff – and it saves 7 watts at a speed of 45kph, adding to the supreme aerodynamics of MERIDA’s new REACTO model. In a quest to further reduce the weight of the team bikes, doing with just a thin layer of clear coat on the carbon helps save another 100 grams. Last but not least, key riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM went through a detailed bikefitting session with Shimano’s expert Robert Lechner at the team’s first training camp for 2018 on the Croatian island of Hvar in December, looking for fine details to improve on. The SCULTURA model ridden to Grand Tour podiums by Vincenzo Nibali offers a more forgiving ride for long, hard mountain stages while the WARP TT gets to action for time trials.
Of course the team’s management has also been active on the transfer market, adding some class and talent to the team’s roster for 2018. The most famous name to have signed with the team is Italian climber Domenico Pozzovivo, who is set to lead the team at the Giro d’Italia. With Gorka Izagirre, Ion’s elder brother, and former under23 road World champion Matej Mohoric, two strong all-rounders who won Grand Tour stages in Italy and Spain last year respectively are adding to the depth of the team.
Kristijan Koren has been signed to add experience and depth to the team’s line-up for the classics and stage races, while Austrian climbing specialist Hermann Pernsteiner has been signed as a domestique for mountain stages. Last but not least, Ukrainian Mark Padun is making the step to the highest level of pro cycling, having been a proficient winner in various kinds of under23 races in recent years, stressing his polyvalence.
With Ramunas Navardauskas, Kanstantin Siutsou, Heinrich Haussler and Ion Izagirre all back to their old strength after lengthy, injury-related time-outs, the line-up of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM looks strong and ready to rock the 2018 season. While Domenico Pozzovivo is set to lead the team at the Giro d’Italia, Vincenzo Nibali is putting his main focus on the hilly Ardennes classics, the Tour de France and the World championships to be held on a demanding, mountainous circuit around the Austrian city of Innsbruck. As for the more sprinter-friendly spring classics such as the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race, the team will be riding for Sonny Colbrelli and Heinrich Haussler. Both Ion and Gorka Izagirre are strong options for shorter stage races that include a time trial and some mountain stages, and of course Italian sprinter Niccolo Bonifazio is hungry for a first win (and more) in the colours of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM after having missed out entirely in 2017. Fielding Taiwan’s Chun-kai Feng, China’s Meiyin Wang and the vastly experienced Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro, the team has the biggest group of riders from Asia in the World Tour as well.
2018 roster of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM: Valerio Agnoli, Yukiya Arashiro, Manuele Boaro, Grega Bole, Niccolo Bonifazio, Borut Bozic, Sonny Colbrelli, Feng Chun-kai, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Enrico Gasparotto, Heinrich Haussler, Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre, Kristijan Koren, Matej Mohoric, Ramunas Navardauskas, Antonio Nibali, Vincenzo Nibali, Domen Novak, Mark Padun, Franco Pellizotti, David Per, Hermann Pernsteiner, Luka Pibernik, Domenico Pozzovivo, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Giovanni Visconti and Meiyin Wang.
BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling TeamTeam Bikes