Merida confirm end to title sponsorship of Bahrain team

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)
Vincenzo Nibali wins a stage at the 2019 Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Bicycle manufacturer Merida has confirmed it will cease its title sponsorship of the Bahrain-Merida team in 2020. 

The Taiwanese company will continue to supply the WorldTour team with bikes but McLaren is set to step up as the secondary title sponsor. The automotive company is increasing its backing of the team, which will be known as Bahrain-McLaren in 2020. 

Merida has been title sponsor of the team since it was launched in 2017 by Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Before that, it was co-title sponsor of the Lampre-Merida team for four years. 

It has seen some big successes in the past three years, notably Vincenzo Nibali's victories at Il Lombardia and Milan-San Remo, and podium finishes at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. 

"We are immensely proud of the last three years and what we have achieved. Being part of the team from its very beginning and securing two Grand Tour podiums in the first season gives us a great sense of accomplishment and an eagerness to stay involved with the Bahrain WorldTour team," said Andreas Rottler, Merida's director of sport marketing.

"It is a great honour as well as a responsibility to continue with one of the most successful teams in the peloton, and we are looking forward to our new role."

The Bahrain-McLaren team, which will include new signing Mark Cavendish, will continue to race on the same Merida bikes in 2020. The Scultura is a lightweight climbing bike, the Reacto is an aero bike, and the Warp is the time trial bike. 

Merida has said it will draw on McLaren's technical expertise to continue to develop its products. 

"Merida's desire to use technology to further the development of our key equipment mirrors our own, and their track record with the team during the first three years of partnership has demonstrated the quality of their approach. I’m sure that together we can build an even brighter future," said John Allert, managing director of McLaren's 'Pro Cycling' division.

Now three years old, the Bahrain team will undergo significant changes in 2020, with McLaren ramping up its involvement and Rod Ellingworth, formerly of Team Ineos, appointed as team manager. Nibali, the team's marquee rider, is moving on to Trek-Segafredo, while Mikel Landa has signed from Movistar as the main Grand Tour leader. Cavendish, who has a strong relationship with Ellingworth and ties with McLaren, has signed after an illness-hit couple of years at Dimension Data amid question marks over whether he can return to his former glories.

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