Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa reiterated his plans for a new Bahrain Cycling Team, in a recent post on social media that read, "Bahrain Cycling Team will inspire, race hard, and look elegant."
The team, which will reportedly attempt to secure a WorldTour licence, is pursuing 2016 Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali, who currently races for Astana but has been linked to the new Bahrain program as a potential signing for 2017.
The prince also made an official statement about the project in a report on Bahrain News Agency, highlighting the importance of his new team and its potential influence on the growth of cycling in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a small island country in the Persian Gulf.
"Our participation in these competitions will affirm our desire to take part in various sporting events, and will help also expand the number of practitioners to this sport in the Kingdom of Bahrain," he told Bahrain News Agency.
"The cycling races have become amongst the most important events in the Kingdom of Bahrain with many Bahraini youths and residents as well as many from outside the Kingdom have shown their keenness to participate in them. And this goes in line with our strategy and goals behind the formation of this team, as this will encourage many to practice this sport daily."
The prince also noted the growth of other sports such as triathlon and motorsports in Bahrain, and the need to also grow cycling among those sports.
"The Kingdom of Bahrain has become the home of the Triathlon and the motorsport in the Middle East. The formation of the team will definitely further enable the Kingdom to become the home of cycling sport in the region as well as represent a great leap towards promoting the Kingdom of Bahrain in line with its 2030 vision.
"The Kingdom of Bahrain Cycling Team will soon make its debut on the international scene, and we hope to begin achieving positive results as this will be a morale-boosting for the team and will help the team to gain more experience for the coming competitions."
Nibali has been linked to the team since February and, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, was keen to move his group of riders and staff to a new team for 2017. At that time, the prince of Bahrain was ready to take on Astana, Trek-Segafredo and Lampre-Merida to try to secure Nibali's signature on a contract.
Following Nibali recent success at the Giro d'Italia, where he won stage 19 to Risoul and then secured the maglia rosa during stage 20 in Sant'Anna di Vinadio, Astana director Alexandre Vinokourov hinted that Nibali's overall victory could play a part in convincing the Italian to turn down an offer from the new Bahrain Cycling Team and stay with Astana for 2017 and beyond.
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