BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team – A Year Older, Wiser and Stronger, Looking Forward to the Challenges of 2018
Sunday, 4th February 2018 – The Management and the riders of Team BAHRAIN MERIDA, as well as the sponsors representatives, supporters and members of Bahraini and International media gathered in Bahrain in the last few days to review the 2017 season and to forecast the expectations and goals for the season ahead. The highlight of these last few days was today’s annual gathering in the Royal Court.
Almost exactly a year ago, Team BAHRAIN MERIDA’s representatives and riders met in His Highness Sheik Nasser’s Royal Majilis for the first official presentation of the team to the world, to the fans and sponsors and last but not least to the Team’s number one supporter, Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa without whom this whole venture would have not been possible.
Today the Team is one year older, has overcome some tough trials and learning curves just to become stronger, more victorious and able to show what motivates the team, namely a great deal of cohesion, laughter and fun, blended with infinite hours of hard work, struggle and determination. What we have today is a Team that became a second family to all our members and as a family wants to prove its greatness.
Brian Smith from Eurosport, the moderator of today’s event, walked the audience through the best moments of pride for Team Bahrain Merida in 2017. He then went on to a panel discussion with Andreas Rottler, General Manager of Merida Europe, Brent Copeland, General Manager of Team Bahrain Merida and Vincenzo Nibali – The Shark – , the Captain of the Team. The CEO Merida Europe, Mr. Wolfgang Renner, shared with the audience the proud moment when Vincenzo Nibali won the last race of the season, the Giro di Lombardia, which traditionally is a good omen for a great season to come in the next year. A short video with the highlights of the previous season was shown.
Brent Copeland recalled the words of Sheikh Nasser in 2017’s presentation that the goal of Team Bahrain Merida was to promote well-being and a healthy lifestyle through cycling and to put Bahrain on the international map. Goal that was well achieved by the brilliant results of the young team. He presented the targets for 2018, first of which is to fulfil the GOLD ONLY Year 2018 that Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa has announced in January. The Bahrain Cycling Association is helping the team find a Bahraini rider to be part of the Team in the near future.
Vincenzo Nibali, when asked about whether he is satisfied with the 2017 results said he is very proud. He acknowledged the merit of the entire team to support his success. His main goal for 2018 is to win the Tour de France and the World Championship in Innsbruck (Austria).
Andreas Rottler praised the two podiums in the Grand Tour that the team achieved and spoke briefly about the new improved bikes that are the necessary tool for the team to win. The team racers and technical staff are highly involved in the R&D of the new bikes.
Another short video about the training camp in Hvar (Croatia) at the end of 2017 was shown.
One of the highlights of today’s event was also the presentation of a new addition to the Team – the official FAN CLUB by the Team’s brand director, Kolja Koračak, and we are all very excited about this news and happy to hear very positive first comments from our loyal fans. The slogan will be I AM BahraIN, hinting to I am IN, being trendy and being part of the international fan community that reaches out to the whole world. The membership in the Fan club will grant members benefits in several outlets in and outside of Bahrain. Events will be created to bring members together and increase the awareness towards Team Bahrain Merida. The official launch for the public will be held on March 1st.
Before the conclusion, His Excellency Sheikh Khaled bin Humood Al-Khalifa, the CEO of Bahrain Tourism & Exhibition Authority, was invited on the stage to present their involvement with the team and the promotional plans for the upcoming season 2018. He thanked Sheikh Nasser for initiating this great team that created a lot of content for Bahrain as a destination. The Germany, France and UK offices of the Bahrain Tourism Authority witnessed how Team Bahrain Merida has drawn a lot of awareness to Bahrain and contributed to a great deal to attract traffic towards Bahrain. Team Bahrain Merida and the Bahrain Tourism Authority have developed a 360 degrees video with the riders that will be shown in the hospitality booths during the European races in 2018.
The gathering was concluded by the team’s main supporter and founder, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a passionate sportsman himself who just got back from Dubai where he took part in the Ironman, who stressed on the fact that time, efforts, strength and dedication are needed in order to succeed in any sport. And cycling is no exception to that rule. The conveyed the greetings and support of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa who is the biggest fan of team. He himself was extremely positively surprised to see the amazing results that the team achieved in 2017 and is looking forward to an even better season in 2018. We have stepped up way further than expected bringing cycling close to the general public. Sheikh Nasser invited the drivers of Bahrain to pay attention to the cycling riders on Bahrain’s roads. He mentioned also that a dedicated cycling track is being planned.
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