Bahrain Merida have confirmed the arrival of Wout Poels for 2020, with the Dutchman swapping his supporting role at Team Ineos for more of a leadership role at Bahrain Merida alongside Mikel Landa, who joins the team from Movistar.
Vincenzo Nibali will leave Bahrain Merida for Trek-Segafredo, with Rohan Dennis' future at the team still to be decided after he suddenly quit the Tour de France.
Bahrain Merida confirmed that Poels would reunite with new team manager Rod Ellingworth, who officially starts his role on October 1 after leaving Team Sky in the spring.
When announcing Poels arrival and multi-year deal, Bahrain Merida highlighted how the involvement of the McLaren Group, via its 50 per cent ownership of the team, will help the team "spark imagination and interest, and challenge the traditional boundaries of pro cycling to inspire riders, fans and partners."
The Bahrain Merida team and McLaren are controlled by the Mumtalakat Holding Company – the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
“It’s impossible not to admire what Team Bahrain Merida has achieved in less than three seasons, and I’m very excited about the opportunity that its joint venture with McLaren offers," Poels said when his signing was announced.
"McLaren brings a fresh perspective to the sport which encompasses equipment, human performance, data analysis and operational excellence. The application of its knowledge and technology will undoubtedly drive the team forward. It’s a fascinating prospect, not just for me, but for the sport as a whole.
"Combined with Rod Ellingworth’s expertise, McLaren’s involvement promises to make Bahrain Merida one of the best and most captivating teams in the peloton, and I look forward to playing a key part in its future success."
31-year-old Poels won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2016 and has also enjoyed stage wins at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of Britain. He has ridden 14 Grand Tours, often helping Chris Froome to victory thanks to his climbing ability. Poels is likely to share team leadership with Landa at the Grand Tours and at the Ardennes Classics with Dylan Teuns.
The 2020 Bahrain Merida roster currently includes Matej Mohoric, Heinrich Haussler, Damiano Caruso and Ivan Garcia Cortina.
“It’s fantastic to welcome Wout to the team. A consistent top performer and no stranger to success, he is one of professional cycling’s shining lights and we’re incredibly excited to have him on board," said Brent Copeland, Bahrain-Merida manager.
"His vast experience will be invaluable as we build an exciting new chapter for the team in partnership with McLaren."