• Riders from the Bahrain-Merida team at a October get together. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
As expected given the signings of riders like Vincenzo Nibali and Australia's Heinrich Haussler, Bahrain-Merida has been awarded a two-year WorldTour license.
28 Nov 2016 - 9:49 AM  UPDATED 28 Nov 2016 - 11:50 AM

The team is a controversial addition to the WorldTour, with allegations of human rights abuses levelled at its principal supporter, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of the Bahraini royal family, who is also president of the small nation's Olympic Committee.

However, with big name riders and experienced technical support brought in to support the effort, those concerns would always be secondary to the International Cycling Union (UCI), which assesses bids on technical and sporting merits, not on contested political terrain.

While the team will be licensed to Bahrain, a first for the Middle-East, there are 12 nations represented in its organisational structure, with a heavy Italian flavour, led by Nibali.

“We are very pleased to receive the official notification from the UCI," said general manager of the team, Brent Copeland. "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 world's top teams together both with riders as well as with very professional staff and we will not disappoint the UCI WorldTour races or our ever growing fans, we will go to every race been as competitive as possible to make the racing as exciting as possible.

"We have come to meet some very experienced and organised 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 world's 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, organisation and a good image which will help put our team on the map and expose both our partners in a way that will make them proud.”

All that's left is for the team to reveal its debut kit and to hit the road as a collective. Perhaps the jersey will look something like this.