Heinrich Haussler and Grega Bole have signed with the nascent Team Bahrain Merida for the 2017 season. Haussler joins from the soon-to-be defunct IAM Cycling squad, while Bole comes on board from Nippo-Vini Fantini.
It is the third time in Haussler's career that he has signed on for a new team at the very beginning of the project, having joined Cervélo TestTeam on its formation in 2009 and IAM Cycling for its maiden season in 2013. The Bahrain Merida squad is headlined by Vincenzo Nibali.
"I am really happy that the team has given me the opportunity to race and I am really looking forward to a new start and a new structure," Haussler said. "I had very good experiences in the past years with new teams and I am looking forward in a new culture in a team. In general I am looking forward to giving my best in the top races in the world in the next season."
The 32-year-old Haussler won the Australian title last year and brings Classics experience to the Bahrain Merida set-up. He placed second at both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders in 2009, and finished 6th at Paris-Roubaix this season. He and the rest of the IAM Cycling squad where left without a team when owner Michel Thetaz announced his decision to withdraw from the sport during the Giro d'Italia.
Bole has enjoyed a leadership role at Nippo-Vini Fantini this season, winning the GP Costa degli Etruschi and the overall classification at the Tour of Korea. The Slovenian previously spent four years at WorldTour level, with Lampre and Vacansoleil, winning a stage of the Dauphiné in 2010 and the GP Ouest-France the following year.
"I am already excited about next season and for our new challenges. Most of all I hope that coming season will be successful as much as for the whole team to whom I will help and do my best and also for me personally," Bole said.
The signing of Haussler and Bole brings the total number of riders confirmed with the Bahrain Merida squad for 2017 to nine. Nibali was the first signing to be announced, and he has been followed by Giovanni Visconti, Manuele Boaro, Borut Bozic, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Sonny Colbrelli, Luka Pibernik, and now Haussler and Bole.
"It gives us great pleasure to make this important announcement, both Heinrich and Grega are riders that we have had our eyes on for a long time, they are riders who we expect can bring fantastic results to the team in many different terrains," Bahrain Merida general manager Brent Copeland said. "Their CV speaks for themselves so there is not much to explain about them. What I do want to point out is even though they both have huge experience in the peloton, I do feel they still have a good margin of improvement."