Annual Gathering of BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team in Manama
Manama, Thursday February 21st 2019 – The sponsors representatives, supporters and members of Bahraini media; the management and the riders of Team BAHRAIN MERIDA, gathered in the Royal Court in Manama, Bahrain for the third time.
Team’s number one supporter His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Representative of His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports and President of Bahrain Olympic Committee held an opening speech where he emphasised the importance and meaning of the team for Bahrain through a sport which unites everyone. “Many goals were achieved but we haven’t reached our ultimate goal. With our goals towards esteem we are looking forward to dream big, to go better in our achievements and to go faster.” His Highness expressed his satisfaction regarding the cycling sport, which has grown a lot in Bahrain even more he could ever believe. He ran through the statistics which show the team attended 250 races in more than 20 countries across the 5 continents in the last season. Since 2018, the progress from the season one is huge, a team achieved 26 victories and 62 second and third places, winning world know classic race Milano-San Remo and many other races. He thanked team and especially sponsors without whom the success would not be possible at all.
After the opening speech moderator announced a short video with the highlights of the previous season where spectators in the audience could see and feel a team’s passion and success in the last season. After a video he invited to a panel discussion Brent Copeland, General Manager of Team Bahrain Merida, Vincenzo Nibali, one of the best riders of all times, Rohan Dennis, a new rider in the team and the current World Champion in Time Trial, Mr. Andreas Rottler, General Manager of Merida Europe and Mr. John Allert, Chief Marketing Officer of McLaren Group.
Brent Copeland presented previous season, in which determined goals were achieved. He emphasized that being 5thin the UCI ranking normally takes at least 5 years to get there.” We always looking to improve, ultimate goal is to become the best team in the world which we are aware it will take time but we have a vision and strategy. One of the main goal is also helping to find a Bahraini rider to be part of the team in the near future.”
Vincenzo Nibali, when asked about the goals for 2019, mentioned he is ready after the tough season and bad injury at Tour de Franc in the last season. He is looking forward to attending 2 grand tours, Giro d’Italia and Tour de France and expects top results there.
New rider in the team, Australian Rohan Dennis, is excited to be a part of the Bahrain Merida Team: ”It’s a team which is looking forward and progress. I want to keep my record going and good time trial form. I am sure this is the best place to be.” After the question of his out most goals: ”I want to perform well in the World Championship in Yorkshire, perform well on time trial races during the season, I would love to perform well at Tour of California and help to Vincenzo at Tour de France. This is quite a special feeling to help someone else and especially if that one is Vincenzo.”
Andreas Rottler, CEO Merida Europe answered about the expectations during the last 2 years and current technology achievements together with the team: “From MERIDA BIKES’ perspective, the first two years have been a great success for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. When the project started in 2016, Shaikh Nasser was very convincing thanks to his passion for the sport of cycling and his visionary ideas.
For us as a manufacturer is very important to collaborate with riders who train hard, race hard and win a lot. We have developed new bike, Reacto, together with the team and it is a very successful product.”
To a question regarding joint venture of McLaren Andreas answered: “We at MERIDA BIKES are looking forward to this season, closely cooperating with the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM and its new partner McLaren.”
Representative of McLaren John Allert answered to moderator: “We are as excited as anyone to be embarking on this partnership journey. Cycling has been a sector of great interest of McLaren in recent years, and it was a case of believing that the right circumstances would eventually evolve to a level that makes sense for us to launch into this incredible sport.
We come into this world with great humility and respect for the sport and the competition. We will play our part in contributing to a sport which is loved and enjoyed by millions globally. We are competitors and extracting maximum performance from the combination of human and machine is our natural world. We have been involved at the highest level before, although in a more limited way in a shorter timeframe.”
To the question what expertise from the years in F1 McLaren Applied Technologies will seek to use for the advantage of Team Bahrain Merida John replies: “McLaren Applied Technologies business is being around for a decade and has 500 employees. It has diversified technology of F1 and super cars but lately also in cycling. We are confident that we have some technologies to perform cycling. There are two overarching areas: technology and human performance, encompassing a variety of specialisms, including Data science in human body and mind,Analytics for data insight and predictions, Aerodynamics, Materials science, Mechanical optimisation and simulation, Vehicle dynamics/handling and physics modelling, Driver/Rider in the loop simulators, Sensors and data transmission, Operational excellence including team operations and set up. It is about the interaction of the man with the machine and the road surface and the strategy within the peloton.”
Conclusion words of the gathering were given to Brent Copeland who shortly explained the most proudly moments of the team: “To be in the Royal Court since the first entrance until today, to have such a team, all the wins of the stages, victory of Vincenzo at Milano – San Remo last year. But, I have to say that we feel proud every time when any rider wears Bahrain Merida jersey.”
Photo credits: @hamadphoto