Colbrelli extends contract as Bahrain-Merida build for the future

New WorldTour team tight-lipped about possible signings to back Nibali in 2018

The Bahrain-Merida team have announced that sprinter and Classics rider Sonny Colbelli has extended his contract as the new WorldTour team begins to strengthen its roster for the 2018 season.

The 27-year-old Italian apparently signed a new contract before heading to the Criterium du Dauphine. He then finished sixth and fourth in the opening stages and wore the green points jersey during stage three. Colbelli won a stage at Paris-Nice and the Brabantse Pijl race in the spring. He was 10th at the Tour of Flanders and ninth at the Amstel Gold Race.

"When I received this proposal to renew my contract I didn't think twice. I am grateful to Bahrain-Merida because they are taking me to the top of the pro cycling, to compete with big champions worldwide," Colbrelli said in a statement issued by the team.

"I'm really happy to announce the extension of my contract with Bahrain-Merida. From the beginning my relationship with the team, my new teammates, sports directors, mechanics, masseurs, team managers and everyone else was great. They trust me and consider me a leader, a captain."

Team manager Brent Copeland indicated that Colbrelli is one 'of the first to renew' his contract, indicating that further contract news is expected over the summer.

Vincenzo Nibali was reported to have asked the Bahrain-Merida management for a stronger roster for 2018 after he lacked key support on several important mountain stages during the Giro d'Italia, making him cautious about launching all-out attacks on Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and major rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Sheikh Nasser of Bahrain was at the finish of the Giro d'Italia and indicated that two key signings will be made for 2018. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Nibali is hoping that Mikel Landa of Team Sky, Davide Formolo of Cannondale-Drapac or Damiano Caruso of BMC Racing can be added to the 2018 roster. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) is expected to join his brother Ion on Bahrain-Merida in 2018.

"The team was started from scratch," Sheikh Nasser told Cyclingnews during the final stages of the Giro d'Italia. "It was a very difficult job. Most of them are senior riders so we are planning to get stronger and better with a few different names. The team will be better and better and this will be our aim." 

The team management confirmed they are planning to be active in this summer's transfer market. Alex Carera –a former rider agent and now the Business and Marketing manager at Bahrain-Merida, confirmed they are studying possible new signings.

"It's obvious that were looking at the market like every team at the highest level. We're considering our options and we've already identified several riders, but it is too early to talk about them for now," Carera recently told Tuttobiciweb.


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