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Italy's Michele Merlo (Barloworld)
Italy's Merlo takes Tour of Britain's London stage, possible last win for Barloworld
Italy's Michele Merlo, 25, captured what might be team Barloworld's last win in the Tour of Britain. He out-sprinted Spaniard Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in yesterday's final stage in London.
"I'm so proud with Michele and I'd like to thank all the riders for their commitment and team-work," team manager Claudio Corti said. "Today's win could be the last one of the season for the team and for Barloworld. It was nice to take it here in London."
Barloworld-Bianchi's base is in Italy, but it's registered in Great Britain. The team includes several Anglophone riders: John-Lee Augustyn, Robert Hunter, Geraint Thomas, Steven Cummings, Chris Froome and Daryl Impey. Four of them have made the jump up to race for ProTour team Sky in 2010.
Barloworld decided to end its sponsorship after last year's Tour de France. The team's cyclist, Moisés Dueñas, tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO). Despite the bad news, Corti and Barloworld agreed last autumn to continue working together through 2009.
Over its seven years Barloworld has grown from a South African team to an international level team. It received wild card invitations to the 2007 and 2008 Tour de France. In its debut appearance it won a stage with South African Robert Hunter and the mountains classification with Colombian Mauricio Soler.
Corti told Cyclingnews that he will decide soon if he will continue in 2010 with a new sponsor.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) won four stages and the overall of the Tour of Britain. The race is in its sixth year, this year starting in Scunthorpe and ending in London.