Antonio Nibali will link up brother Vincenzo at the Bahrain Merida team next season with the newly created squad confirming it has signed the 24-year-old. The team, which is aiming to enter the WorldTour ranks from 2017, has now signed 21 riders for the upcoming season.
Nibali has spent the last two seasons with the Pro-Continental Nippo - Vini Fantini team having started his professional career with Marchiol Emisfero in 2014. Like his older brother, Antonio Nibali is a climber and previously expressed his desire to emulate Vincenzo's Giro d'Italia triumphs. His best result so far is 11th overall at the 2016 Tour of Japan which also served to seal his deal with the team as manager Brent Copeland explained.
"All at Bahrain Merida are very much looking forward to Antonio being part of this important team," Copeland said. "Antonio will be coming into his 4th year as a professional cyclist and at the young age of 24 we feel its time he takes this important step in his career where we all feel he has a good margin for improvement, his 11th place in the Tour of Japan final general classification this year showed us his important characteristics. Antonio is the type of rider that dedicates everything to his job and a true professional at applying himself to hard work, we are very excited to see him racing with our teams jersey next year."
For Antonio Nibali, who last raced at the Tour of China II in September having started his season at the Tour de San Luis in January, the move is a dream as he explained he is struggling to control his emotions knowing the calibre of riders who will be teammates next season.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this new project along with such champions of cycling like my brother Vincenzo and many others. Riding together with my brother will be a really emotional experience. He is really happy for me too. He didn’t give me any advice yet, but for sure he will soon, maybe starting with the next training camp and then before races. I can’t wait to meet the whole team next week," he said.
"I already know some of my new teammates as Agnoli, Gasparotto and Visconti and I’m really thrilled to ride with Purito Rodriguez, he’s a legend. I can’t express my expectations about the new season yet.All races will be pretty new for me and my task will be to support my teammates and captains. My goal is to have a good season and gain experience in the World Tour. It’s important to me that my brother and the team will be proud of me."
For the Cyclingnews guide to 2016-2017 rider transfers and full list of riders signed by Bahrain Merida, click here.