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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, November 28, 2016

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Bahrain-Merida's World Tour license and team jersey

The team put out this report upon being made a World Tour team:

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BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team after a strong strategic plan, clear goals and a huge effort and commitment, succeeded to became one of the eighteen teams in WorldTour to have a UCI WorldTour licence.

We can all agree that having an UCI WorldTour licence is a great honor and a great step forward in our combined efforts towards a mutual goal. Although, we never doubted this to be achieved we would take this opportunity and thank all the people who were intensely involved in building the project of placing a Middle Eastern cycling team to the global cycling map. BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team is the first WT team to be based in the Middle East. The team is funded through a consortium of businesses and partners from a small island country of Bahrain that now has the chance to show the cycling world just how big it can be.

All of our partners are strongly committed to the growth and development of the team and have ensured the best conditions for its 27 confirmed riders to achieve top results in the WorldTour races around the world.

Bahrain Sheikh

Sheikh Nasser posted this picture of the team's jersey and bike on Facebook

One of the main supporters and a huge fan of the team His Highness Sheikh Nasser expressed his thoughts after official confirmation from the UCI: "We are extremely proud to be joining an exceptional group of cycling professionals and enthusiasts in our pursuit of further reach to the sport of cycling in our region.

The BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team will also showcase the Kingdom of Bahrain on the global stage, by showcasing the Kingdom as a premier destination for both business and tourism, as well as supporting the growth of cycling within our part of the world. No doubt that with the stellar team of cyclists, management and staff alongside the support and passion of the sponsors and cycling enthusiasts in the region will be a great motivation for the team to reach its potential."

Without the co-title sponsor Merida who trusted team strategy from the beginning of this great story this project would not be where it is. With the dedicated support from the people at Merida the team is what it meant it to be. Team would like to take this opportunity and thank everyone at Merida for their support and great work.

Management is comprised of globally recognised cycling experts, who have been selected for their commitment due to their independent and results driven approach. Two years ago they decided to dedicate their time and expertise to form a strategic approach to the project, carefully planning and analyzing the growth of professional road cycling sport and creating a clear vision for the team and until this day they strongly believe that they will succeed. As of today that could not be more accurate as the project was given approval by the highest cycling authority. This huge project will have many successful consequences for the investors with their determined goals and also and most important for the riders and staff who will get a chance to ride and work with elite.

As this surely is great news in reality it means a lot of hard work and even more dedication to the project as the season is getting closer every day. As you read this, the team is preparing for the official presentation in Bahrain where people from the whole team from 12 different countries in the world will have an honour to meet the Royal Family, that are huge supporters of this beautiful sport and the great international team. Now it is our time to prove that big dreams are allowed and to prove to everyone and ourselves that if you keep your mind open and believe strong enough, there are no limits to what you can achieve.

General Manager of the team, Brent Copeland said: “We are very pleased to receive the official notification from the UCI, on behalf of WorldTour team BAHRAIN MERIDA I would like to thank the UCI and president Cookson for their decision made, we are very proud to have put one of the worlds top teams together both with riders as well as with very professional staff and we will not disappoint neither the UCI WorldTour races neither our ever growing fans, we will go to every race been as competitive as possible to make the racing as exciting as possible. We would also like to thank everyone that has been involved and believed in the project from the start, putting a new project together is never an easy task however it is a pleasure working with all the people involved in helping this project become a reality and with this comes a lot of satisfaction for the hard work that has been invested. We have come to meet some very experienced and organized people from Bahrain who have given a huge amount of support in all areas as well as the immense amount of support from one of the worlds most important bicycle brands, namely Merida who have always believed in getting to where we are today, having said that, this is just the start of the new project, now the real work starts where we will continue to invest in expertise, organization and a good image which will help put our WorldTour team BAHRAIN MERIDA on the map and expose both our partners in a way that will make them proud.”

His Highness Sheikh Nasser added how will the world-class team inspire many athletes in their part of the world: “This collective effort follows a time of increasing sport success of the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain and I want to recognize the exceptional commitment of our local companies to support the promotion of the sport of cycling in Bahrain and the Middle East. This also coincides with significant efforts we are making within our nation to provide opportunities for our young people to enjoy and compete in a number of different sports. We are seeing real progress with this and I am absolutely committed to ensuring that this continues, as I truly believe that being exposed to a group of world-class cyclists and athletes will inspire many in our part of the world to join in sport alongside friends and family in a manner that can be both beneficial and rewarding for everyone whatever their ability, skill or passion."

Peter Velits hangs up the chamois

Slovakian cyclist Peter Velits, who has ridden for BMC since 2014, was unable to find a place on a World Tour team 2017 and has decided to retire from competitive cycling.

Peter Velits

Peter Velits at the 2016 Tour de Romandie

Velits started his career with a bang. He turned pro in 2007 and that same year won the U23 World Road Championship. Riding for big-time teams such as Omega Pharma and BMC allowed him to win three World Team Time Trial Championships, but he had important individual wins. His last major victory was the 2009 GP Canton Aargau.

Cycling Today provided this translation of his remarks to the Slovakian media: “It was coming. For two years, I’ve not been at my best. Since the operation of an artery in my leg in the spring of last year, I have not achieved any good results.  My season started in January and the first race block lasted until the Tour de Romandie. The team then suddenly told that it would be good for me to look for another team. That surprised me.

“My managers then went looking for a new team. They did what they could by talking to Trek-Segafredo, FDJ and Bahrain Merida among others, but there was no interest. Maybe people think I feel frustrated and am disappointed. That’s not how I feel. I just look forward to the next phase. “

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