Royalty visited the Giro d'Italia on stage 20, as His Highness Sheikh Nasser of Bahrain was at the start and joined in on the presentation of the team he sponsors, Bahrain-Merida.
The prince said that he thought he team’s captain Vincenzo Nibali could repeat winning the overall title. "Vincenzo is a champion. I am pleased and honoured. I am fulfilled by what I have seen during the race. Our team is doing great," he told Cyclingnews.
"It is a matter of Vincenzo's effort, if he wins it or not. It is the first time that we see such a close call but I think that he can do it."
He will see Saturday's stage up close. "I'll be in the car behind the stage and in Milan tomorrow I will stay put at the finish line and watch the race."
Simply being at the race is for the prince "a dream come true. First of all to have a team that represents Bahrain, second to come and experience all of this and third to have a team that is actually going for the top. What really matters out of everything is how much people are attached to this team and how much they love this team. This is a great achievement for us as a start."
This is the team's first season, and their first Grand Tour, after it was set-up over the winter with the backing of the Bahrain government. It hasn't been without its controversy with human rights bodies voicing their concerns about allegations made against the prince ahead of their formation. The team has been able to brush off the allegations thus far and the prince is focused on the its future, saying that there are plans in the works to strengthen it.
"The team, we started it from scratch. It was a very difficult job. Most of them are senior riders so we are planning to get stronger and better with a few different names. The team will be better and better and this will be our aim."
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