• Joaquim Rodriguez at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Getty)Source: Getty
In its quest for one of 17 WorldTour slots, newly constituted team Bahrain-Merida has lured Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez, and the points he carries, out of retirement for 2017.
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Bahrain-Merida
21 Oct 2016 - 10:48 AM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2016 - 11:13 AM

The team already has hitters like Vincenzo Nibali, Javi Moreno and Ion Izaguirre on the books but needed the certainty of Purito's points in a hotly contested battle for a reduced WorldTour team roster planned for 2017 by the UCI.

So what convinced the 37-year-old Spaniard to saddle up for another season? Ostensibly the addition of a "technical" position with the fledgeling outfit as both muse and mentor.

“Bahrain-Merida presented me with a very interesting project," Rodriguez said.

"My decision to leave the competition has always been firm, but Bahrain-Merida proposed a very interesting project to me and assured me that I will feel so comfortable and motivated with them that I have decided to put a race number on my back for one more year.

"That's also the reason they have offered me to be part of their team roster for 2017 and the exciting opportunity to work within the technical staff for 2018 and 2019, so I have the possibility to return to the races, otherwise I would never have had this exciting opportunity.

"This role is new to me, but the only thing they asked me to do is what I know best, enjoy cycling as usual and bring all my experience and knowledge learned throughout my career as a rider. 

"I think that such possibility is a dream of any rider so Bahrain-Merida offered me just what I was looking for.”

But really, it's about the 1290 UCI rider points he carries.

The reality is that had Purito held to his original plan, those valuable points, which play a part in deciding WorldTour status, would have been lost forever. And for a new, cashed up and ambitious venture backed by a controversial Bharani Prince, those were impossible to resist.

Purito's bank manager will also be happy.

Still, it's great to have the punchy battler kicking around for another year. Hopefully, he won't spend it sitting in and getting bottles and we'll see him at the pointy end, as always.

The heavily Italian-accented team has also signed Australian Heinrich Haussler, Manuele Boaro, Enrico Gasparotto, Niccolò Bonifazio, Giovanni Visconti, Sonny Colbrelli, Valerio Agnoli, Kanstantin Siutsou, Borut Božič, Tsgabu Grmay, Ramūnas Navardauskas, Grega Bole and a few others.