The UCI World Tour cycling squad Bahrein–Merida was set up in 2017, and will therefore ride its third season in 2019. The team may not have achieved the success that was hoped by its backers, but with a high-classed rider like Vincenzo Nibali in its ranks, it’s always a team to watch out for. Here are the most important riders.
In 2018, Vincenzo Nibali was well on the way to a good general classification (GC) in the Tour de France, until he collided with a fan and had to retire with a fractured vertebrae. He was in 4th place at the time. The rest of his racing season was lost, despite an excellent 2nd place in the Tour of Lombardy. In 2019, the twice winner of the Giro and winner of both the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain aims to do well in the Giro. He also intends to ride the Tour de France. It’s also good to see his name on the list for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, just like last year.
Vincenzo Nibali (left) and French rider Thibaut Pinot during the Tour of Lombardy 2018. Pinot won the race. Photograph: Cor Vos.
Over the years, Domenico Pozzovivo has been a key support rider for various GC riders. At Bahrain–Merida he’s Nibali’s most important lieutenant, despite the fact that he can get a decent classification himself if push comes to shove—he was, for example, 5th in the 2018 Giro d’Italia. (He also came 5th in the 2014 Giro.) Nibali often rides well during the hilly Spring Classics such as Liège–Bastogne–Liège, in which he was 5th last year. This year he will ride the Giro and the Tour of Spain, and in the Giro he will probably be Nibali’s right-hand man.
Rohan Dennis is the current UCI World Champion time-trialist. In 2019, Dennis switched teams from BMC to Bahrain–Merida. Interestingly, he did not win the national time trial in Australia, his home country, as that prize went to Luke Durbridge. In the 2019 season, Dennis will focus on the Tour de France. He will likely show up high in the time-trial ranking and may once more go head to head with Tom Dumoulin.
Rohan Dennis during the Tour Down Under 2019. Photograph: Cor Vos.
Matej Mohoric is only 24 years old, but has already delivered a couple of significant calling cards over the past couple of years. In 2017, he won a stage in the Tour of Spain, by sticking with a breakaway group all day and crossing the line alone, with a small advantage. In 2018, he won the 10th stage in the Giro d’Italia as well as winning the GC of the BinckBank Tour. In 2019 he will ride an action-packed spring season, riding just about every Classic race there is: including Milan–San Remo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris–Roubaix.
The last man on our list is Dylan Theuns, who, like Rohan Dennis, also made the move to Bahrain–Merida from BMC. The Belgian rider is getting better and better in the Classic races and is also one to watch in short, week-long stage races. In 2018, Theuns was 3rd in the Tour of Lombardy. In the previous year, he won the GC in the Tour of Poland, the Tour of Wallonia and the Arctic Race of Norway. He will ride most of the Spring Classics this year and perhaps one of the Grand Tours. He is now 26 years old, a good age to come out of the shadows and book a big result.
Dylan Teuns winning the Tour of Poland in 2017. Photograph: Cor Vos.