Caruso signs two-year deal with Bahrain-Merida

Italian reunites with Vincenzo Nibali

Damiano Caruso has signed a two-year contract with Bahrain-Merida that will take him through the end of 2020. The move marks the end of his four-year term with BMC Racing, a team that looked set to disband but was saved when title sponsor CCC stepped in to take over the program.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Caruso said in a team press release issued on Wednesday. "I've always considered this team well-organized and well-structured.

"Moreover both management and riders have shown interest in me, so when the opportunity came up, it was very easy to find an agreement. I believe this is the right team for me and I think that this choice can be of benefit to everyone."

Cyclingnews first broke the news of Caruso's move from BMC to Bahrain-Merida in July, noting that the official announcement was set to happen after the transfer window of August 1.

At that time, Bahrain-Merida's manager Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews that "Caruso is a rider that we've found an agreement with. We've always wanted him and we've liked him as a good helper. He can ride as a captain too."

Caruso started his professional cycling career in 2009 with LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini and De Rosa-Stac Plastic, both Professional Continental outfits. He moved up to the WorldTour ranks with Liquigas and Cannondale in 2011 where he spent the next four years. In 2015, he moved over to the BMC Racing team where he has stayed for four seasons.

His results include second overall at Tour of Britain (2012), third overall at Tour of Austria and ninth at the Vuelta a España (2014), eighth overall at the Giro d'Italia (2015), second at Tour de Suisse and 11th at Tour de France (2017). This year he was second at Tirreno-Adriatico and fifth at the Critérium du Dauphiné. His sole victory during those years was in stage 5 at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in 2013, however, he has played a crucial role as a support rider during the Grand Tours. He is expected to continue on a support rider for Bahrain-Merida's Vincenzo Nibali.

"I rode with Vincenzo Nibali when we were teammates at Liquigas in the seasons 2011-2012," Caruso said. "It's nice to be again in the same team. In addition to our friendships, I wish we can build something good together.

"My aim is to continue as I did in the last seasons. My role within the team will be to have my chance for some short stage races and then support the team captain in the Grand Tours."

Bahrain-Merida confirmed on Friday signing Dylan Teuns from BMC along with Sunweb's Phil Bauhaus and Marcel Sieberg from Lotto Soudal - all on two-year deals. The team is also rumoured to have signed Rohan Dennis from BMC.

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