Joaquim Rodríguez will not retire from professional cycling as planned and will instead continue his racing career for one more year, signing for the new Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling team to race in 2017.
The team press release stated that Rodriguez will instead retire at the end of next season but remain with the team through 2018 and 2019, "as as an important role model within the technical staff of the team, namely having the role of mentor for the young riders as well as been a senior advisor to the technical staff."
Rodriguez announced during Tour de France that he intended to retire at the end of 2016 season.
"My decision to leave the competition has always been firm, but Bahrain Merida proposed a very interesting project to me and assured me that I will feel so comfortable and motivated with them that I have decided to put a race number on my back for one more year," Rodriguez said in a statement.
"That's also the reason they have offered me to be part of their important team roster for 2017 and the exciting opportunity to work within the technical staff for 2018 and 2019," he said, adding that this was the deciding factor.
"This ... role is new to me, but the only thing they asked me to do is what I know best: enjoy cycling as usual and bring all my experience and knowledge learned throughout my career as a rider. I think that such possibility is a dream of any rider so the Bahrain Merida Team have offered me just what I was looking for.”
General Manager Brent Copeland called Rodriguez "one of the most important, expert and famous riders in the world", and said "he will bring even more expertise to our already very well established team."
"Having such a classy rider on the team not only brings security and confidence to team Bahrain Merida but also expert advice and mentorship to the younger riders and the rest of the team, which we feel is very important in modern days of cycling.
"Having Joaquim share his knowledge is an asset which is very difficult to find and we are very excited about this fact, not only is he one of the best bike riders cycling has ever seen but he is also one of the greatest personalities and we are sure that his always optimistic attitude will be transmitted to the younger riders in the team which is something we take very seriously at Bahrain Merida."
Rodriguez joins Vincenzo Nibali, Ion Izagirre, Javier Moreno and Giovanni Visconti among others in the nascent squad.