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Bahrain not postponed, says Copeland

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Brent Copeland (Lampre - Merida)

Brent Copeland (Lampre - Merida) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Brent Copeland and Diego Ulissi

Brent Copeland and Diego Ulissi (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) all smiles with his pink jersey

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) all smiles with his pink jersey (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain rides with Vincenzo Nibali

Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain rides with Vincenzo Nibali (Image credit: Instagram)
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Vincenzo Nibali with the Trofeo Senza Fine

Vincenzo Nibali with the Trofeo Senza Fine (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Reports in Wednesday morning's L'Equipe speculating that the Bahrain project would be postponed by a year have been dismissed by the team's future manager. The report in the respected French publication had no official quotes but read that the team would go ahead in 2018, and not in 2017 as originally was planned. The project is expected to ride Merida bikes and sign Vincenzo Nibali.

However Cyclingnews contacted Brent Copeland, who will move from Lampre-Merida to run the team. He stressed that the team would be going ahead as planned, and in 2017.

"They must have information that none of the decision makers have," he told Cyclingnews in relation to the L'Equipe report.

"Everything is proceeding as planned on that front and it's for 2017. I obviously can't talk about riders at this stage though as per the UCI rules of August 1 and we'll respect that. There has been a lot of positive progress though in the last few days."

The team have been reported to have Nibali and several riders on their way to the new project for next year. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) had been linked to the team but reports are that he will move to Bora next season, along with Peter Sagan.

Nibali's agent Alex Carera wouldn't not specifically talk about the Bahrain team, but told Cyclingnews, Vincenzo Nibali will announce his new team after August 1, as the UCI permits. "All the teams that we've held talks with have offered clear contractual guarantees for contract in 2017."

Reports earlier this year indicated that the Bahrain team would be launched on July 11 but Cyclingnews understands that the date has not yet been set for the official announcement.