Italian climbing specialist Domenico Pozzovivo has signed a two-year deal with Bahrain-Merida, the team announced today. The 34-year-old moves to Bahrain-Merida after five years with French team AG2R La Mondiale.
"I am very pleased to be joining Bahrain-Merida, who have made a very impressive impact in the WorldTour of cycling in their first year," Pozzovivo said in a statements released by the team.
Pozzoivo will join fellow Italians Sonny Colbrelli, Niccolo Bonifazio, Enrico Gasparotto and Vincenzo Nibali on next year's team.
"Living in Switzerland close to Vincenzo Nibali and Enrico Gasparotto has given me the opportunity to learn more about the team and their vision of the project," Pozzovivo said. "I was even more enthusiastic and convinced about my decision after speaking with Brent Copeland, who explained more about the team projects and what they expect of me and what I can offer them."
Copeland said the team was "proud" to have Pozzovivo on board for next season.
"He is a rider that we have always admired and believed in, and having such a talented climber and GC rider such as Domenico is a signing that is exciting for all of us," Copeland said. "He represents everything we look for in a cyclist. He is an extremely dedicated and hard worker and a true professional in all areas as well as a very ambitious rider. On top of this he is a team player that is always willing to work and support others at the same time he is considered to be one of our teams leaders who will be given the opportunity to have his own space in many important races."
Pozzovivo has 13 wins in his pro career, most recently taking a stage at the Tour de Suisse in June. He's also won stages at the Giro del Trentino, Tour de Slovenie, Brixia Tour and Settimana Lombarda. His only Grand Tour stage win came at the Giro d'Italia in 2012. He also won the overall at Trentino in 2012 and at the Brixia Tour in 2010. So far in 2017, Pozzovivo has finished third overall at Tour of Alps, fourth at Tour of Suisse, sixth at the Giro d'Italia, sixth at the Tour de Pologne, ninth at Abu Dhabi Tour and 10th at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Pozzovivo started his pro career in 2005 with Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, an Italian Pro Continental team that has since morphed into Bardiani CSF. He moved from the Italian team to AG2R in 2013 and has raced for the French team since.
"My decision was not an easy one as I had a few teams I was in talks with, but after discussing things openly with my manager, Raimondo Scimone, it was decided on, and I am very pleased to make this announcement," said Pozzovivo, who suffered misfortune in Tuesday's stage of the Vuelta a Espana when he crashed just before 3km and slipped out of the top 10 overall.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my present team, AG2R, who I have been with the past five years," he said. "It has been a very nice experience riding for them and a special thanks to all the staff and my team-mates. Now it's time to turn the page, and I am looking forward to a new adventure with Bahrain-Merida."