• Bahrain - Merida 2019. (Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto2018)Source: Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto2018
McLaren, in which Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat has a majority stake, said on Wednesday that the deal would involve technical and commercial collaboration delivered through its applied technologies division.
Cycling Central

13 Dec 2018 - 10:57 AM  UPDATED 13 Dec 2018 - 11:06 AM

The announcement was made in Croatia where the team held its first training camp and 2019 launch ahead of its WorldTour season opener at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Eight new riders were also introduced including Australian Rohan Dennis, Phil Bauhaus, Damiano Caruso, Marcel Sieberg, Andrea Garosio, Jan Tratnik, Stephen Williams and Dylan Teuns.

The McLaren joint venture was timely, coming just after Team Sky, who have dominated the cycling landscape in recent years, confirmed that its main sponsor, broadcaster Sky PLC, would end its involvement in the sport after next season, casting its future in doubt.

"Racing, technology and human performance are at the heart of everything we do at McLaren," the company's chief marketing officer John Allert said in a statement.

"Cycling is something we've been involved with in the past and have been looking at entering for some time. It is a completely natural fit for our skills and our ambitions."

The McLaren Group, which owns the McLaren F1 Team, has previously worked with Team Sky and British Cycling in the build-up to the London Olympics in 2012 through its applied technologies division.

The same unit was also involved in a technical partnership with American cycle manufacturer Specialized.

"The combination of our passion and vision for Team Bahrain Merida to be a winning team, with McLaren's expertise and dedication, is the perfect partnership," Bahrain Merida general manager Brent Copeland said.

Founded in 2017, Bahrain Merida is owned by Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a member of the Bahrain royal family, and led by 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali.

Nibali, also a winner of the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, revealed his racing plans for 2019 at the event including an attempt at the Giro-Tour “double”. 

No financial details of the deal were disclosed but McLaren said the long-term vision behind the partnership would be to elevate Bahrain-Merida to professional cycling's top table.