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Vincenzo Nibali has announced that he will ride both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2019. Speaking at the Bahrain-Merida team presentation in Hvar, Croatia, on Wednesday afternoon, Nibali outlined his plans, noting a third Giro d’Italia victory would be his principal objective of the coming season. “I’ll try to reach the Giro in top condition. From then, we’ll see what energy I have left for the Tour. But I want to do well there too, and we’ll go there with a very strong team,” Nibali said. Nibali has ridden the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season on two previous occasions. As a young rider in 2008, he placed 11th at the Giro d’Italia before finishing his debut Tour de France in 20th overall. In 2016, Nibali claimed overall victory at the Giro d’Italia before placing 30th in the Tour de France, which he rode expressly in preparation for the Rio Olympics. 2019 ought to mark Nibali’s first concerted attempt at winning the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year, although he stressed that the extent of his ambition in July would depend wholly on how well he recovers from his efforts in May. He is set to race more sparingly in the opening part of the 2019 season with the Giro-Tour double in mind. European debut in 2019 Bahrain-Merida confirmed that Nibali would make his season debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on February 6. He will then ride the new UAE Tour (Feb 25-March 2) that is part of the WorldTour and Tirreno-Adriatico (March 13-19). He will defend his Milan-San Remo title on Saturday March 23. The Grand Tour training will begin in early April at altitude with Nibali riding the Tour of the Alps (April 22-26) and liege-Bastogne-Liege before the Giro d’Italia. He is unlikely to race any other stage races between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.ADVERTISEMENT “It will depend on my condition and how I come out of the Giro. The Giro uses up a lot of strength. I have tried to do two Grand Tours in recent years and it’s difficult, especially when you do the Giro and Tour together,” said Nibali. “I’ve had the experience of riding the Giro and Tour, and it’s the most difficult combination. I’ve found it a lot more straightforward to ride the Giro and Vuelta or the Tour and the Vuelta. We’ll try to learn from past experience to get there as best we can, but a lot will depend on how much energy we expend at the Giro.” No rider has succeeded in winning the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year since the late Marco Pantani achieved the double in 1998. In 2018, the football World Cup meant that there was an extra week between the end of the Giro d’Italia and the start of the Tour de France, which encouraged Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome to attempt the double. Froome won the Giro d’Italia and placed third at the Tour de France, while Dumoulin took second overall in each race. Nibali has won the Giro d’Italia on two previous occasions, in 2013 and 2016, and placed third overall on his last appearance in 2017. Fabio Aru and Simon Yates are also expected to tackle the Corsa Rosa, though it remains what other Grand Tour contenders will be tempted to line out in the race, which starts in Bologna on May 11. Team Sky have yet to announce their leader for the Giro Italia, though the team nonetheless dominated headlines on Wednesday following the announcement that Sky would cease its backing of the squad at the end of the 2019 season. “I’ve heard the news but I haven’t read anything about it. The sponsor is leaving but the group is still there,” Nibali said. “This certainly isn’t a decision that was made overnight, Sky is an important sponsor that has invested a lot. But it might be a marketing decision. This is a sponsor that is leaving after a long time, but they might take a few years out and come back into the sport later.”
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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Motorsport giant McLaren is entering cycling at the top level just as Sky is leaving.
The English Formula One group, the second most winning constructor in the sport, will sponsor Vincenzo Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida team starting in 2019.
The news comes just hours after Sky announced it will end its backing of the British super-team after 10 seasons.
“McLaren has been raising the bar for technological innovation and sport performance for decades,” said team general manager Brent Copeland. “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.”
The name McLaren will appear around the sleeves of the team’s jerseys, but the deal is much larger than that. The squad called it a “50 percent joint venture.”
McLaren could become the title sponsor as early as 2020. However, it is understood that John Allert, McLaren’s chief marketing officer, and the Woking, England-based group wants an understated presence in the first year of the deal.
This is not McLaren’s first foray into cycling. It worked with California-based Specialized to make the S-Works McLaren Venge that Mark Cavendish rode in the 2011 Tour de France. Cavendish also used the bike to win that year’s world championship in Copenhagen. This was partly the reason why Cavendish was rumored to join Bahrain-Merida earlier this year.
“There were discussions with his agent but nothing went further than that,” Copeland said. “We had contact with his agent, we thought about bringing him on, but he worked out a deal that worked best for him and Dimension Data.”
Team Sky runs on more than $40 million a year. Bahrain-Merida had an estimated $17 million budget for 2018. McLaren, on the other hand, puts around $250 million into its F1 racing program.
No one on the cycling team that began with the push of Prince Nasser in Bahrain, a small island in the Persian Gulf, will put an exact dollar figure on the McLaren agreement. Certainly, it will expand Bahrain-Merida’s reach for 2019 and beyond.
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });It also means that Rohan Dennis, Nibali, and others on the roster could benefit from McLaren’s wind tunnel testing and technology center in Woking. Dennis and Nibali already used it. Just as with Specialized, McLaren will work with Merida to develop bikes.
“Racing, technology, and human performance are at the heart of everything we do at McLaren,” Allert said.
“Cycling is something we have 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 and a perfect partnership with Team Bahrain-Merida, who have the right vision and approach for the future.
“We will be working tirelessly in the months ahead as we know the world of professional cycling is home to some of the best athletes and competitive teams in the world of sport.”
Australian Rohan Dennis joined the team from BMC Racing and brings an added focus of time trials. Nibali has won all three grand tours, including the 2014 Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia twice. He is expected to return to the Tour next summer.
Read the full article at McLaren to sponsor Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida team on

The clock is already ticking.
Team Sky officials acknowledged Wednesday they have a little more than six months to find a new sponsor to save the team.
The peloton was dealt a shocker Wednesday when corporate backers abruptly announced they would end their financial support of cycling’s richest team at the end of 2019.
With a budget topping $35 million annually and a roster that includes two Tour de France winners in Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, team manager Dave Brailsford knows he has a big task ahead of him.
In an open letter to fans, Team Sky officials admitted they need to secure the team’s future before the start of the 2019 Tour de France.
“This news has only just been announced; we can’t predict what will happen from 2020 and there are no guarantees,” the statement read. “Whatever happens, we will make sure there is clarity one way or the other about the future of the Team before the Tour de France next July.”
Late June is considered the drop-dead date within the peloton to secure sponsorship backing in order to keep a team’s top riders. Stars such as Froome and Thomas won’t wait around long if there is not a new deal in place before the Tour starts.
In fact, riders and agents often start working the phones at the first hint of a team’s financial insecurity. It’s hard not to imagine that that’s not already happening in the wake of Wednesday’s surprise announcement.
Last year, for example, both Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis secured their deals to leave BMC Racing well before the start of the 2018 Tour when it was obvious that team boss Jim Ochowicz had not closed a deal. Ochowicz eventually brokered a deal with Polish shoemaker CCC to keep the team afloat, but not before losing Porte to Trek-Segafredo and Dennis to Bahrain-Merida.
Not only will he be pinched for time, but Brailsford will also need to find a backer with pockets as big as Sky provided. The team’s estimated budget of more than $35 million annually dwarfs the budgets of other teams in the WorldTour.
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It’s also unclear if Brailsford would want to continue with a lesser-funded team even if a sponsor stepped forward with a smaller budget. It would be hard to keep the current lineup in place with two Tour de France champions and an all-star support staff. Brailsford has also invested heavily in building up a strong roster of young, promising riders, including Egan Bernal, which would become a top target for teams looking to poach Brailsford’s deep bench.
“In terms of the future, we are open-minded,” the statement read. “If we can find a new long-term partner to take the team forward into a new era, then we will do so. And we will be doing everything we can to make that happen over the coming weeks and months. Equally, any future partner would have to be the right partner — one who shares our ethos and buys into our values.”
Brailsford has always set a very high bar. Following Wednesday’s news, he will be facing the biggest challenge of his career to keep together the team he spent the past decade building.
He has a little more than six months.
Read the full article at Team Sky sets June deadline to find new backer on

Chris Froome has reacted to news that Sky will end its backing of Team Sky after the 2019 season, suggesting the team is "not finished by any means." "I can't predict the future but I can say this with absolute certainty, this is a really special team," Froome said in a message on Twitter. "We plan to be together in 2020 if at all possible and we will all be doing everything we can to help make that happen – in different colours with a new partner but with the same values, focus and desire to win." Froome is preparing for the 2019 season with his Team Sky teammates in Mallorca. They and team staff apparently heard that Sky was ending its support of the team late on Tuesday night.ADVERTISEMENT Froome has been with Team Sky since the British WorldTour team was created in 2010, emerging as a team leader after finishing second in the 2011 Vuelta a España. He has won the Tour de France four times in Team Sky colours, adding a victory at the Vuelta a España in 2017 and at the Giro d'Italia in 2018. He is the team's leader but had to fight to save his name after returning an adverse analytical finding for asthma drug salbutamol during the 2017 Vuelta a España. He was eventually cleared before this year's Tour de France. Like many of his teammates, Froome has a contract with Team Sky that extends beyond 2019. He signed a new contract in 2017 that runs until the end of 2021. He is expected to target a fifth Tour de France victory in 2019. — Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) December 12, 2018
Sky to end sponsorship after 2019
Team Sky set 2019 Tour de France as deadline to find new sponsors
Acquadro confident Brailsford can save Team Sky
Chris Froome: We are not finished by any means
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No one saw it coming. Riders arriving to Team Sky’s winter training camp Tuesday didn’t have a clue. It was a secret team principal Dave Brailsford held close to his chest.
The cycling community woke up to the stunning news that Sky, the main sponsor that’s bankrolled cycling’s richest team for the last decade, was pulling up stakes by the end of 2019. Team Sky sent shockwaves around the peloton Wednesday, but this time it wasn’t for searing attacks in the Alps.
Riders and staff only found out a few hours before the press releases went out. VeloNews has confirmed through sources the timeline of when and where riders and staff discovered the news. Here’s how it happened:
Everything seemed to be unfolding like any other team camp to kick-start a new racing season. Staffers had already been on a hand for a few days. The riders started to arrive to Spain’s sunny Mallorca. Chris Froome was back from spending time in Colombia with former teammate Rigoberto Urán. Geraint Thomas, now the toast of England, was back in the saddle after a busy off-season that included appearances on some of the UK’s top chat shows.
The mood was jovial. After winning the Giro d’Italia with Froome and the Tour de France with Thomas, spirits were sky high. Riders and staff hadn’t seen one another since the season wound down in October. Everyone was keen to get “stuck in” and map out the 2019 season.
First came a training camp tradition. Ever since Team Sky started coming to the northern shore of Mallorca for its winter training camps nearly a decade ago, the team always opened its stay with a boisterous team dinner. Everyone gathered around in a private affair as management handed out prizes and awards for staffers and riders. It’s an intimate moment to share a few laughs and relish the previous season’s successes before getting down to work.
And then around 10 p.m., team principal Dave Brailsford stood up and made an announcement that no one was expecting: Sky, the team’s main backer since its inception, would be leaving at the end of 2019.
Jaws dropped, a few gasped. Everyone was stunned. No one knew. Not even the team’s top stars had a clue about what Brailsford had found out a few weeks ago.
It was information that Brailsford was keeping close to his chest.
It all started last summer, when media icon Rupert Murdoch put Sky plc, the British media company he founded three decades ago, on the market. As Froome was winning the Giro and Thomas was ripping across the Alps, an intense bidding war commenced for one of the largest media empires in Europe. After a months-long battle, U.S.-based Comcast came out on top with a blockbuster deal worth $38 billion in late September.
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In the background, a few tremors might have been felt even as far away as Sky’s Manchester, England headquarters.
On October 9, James Murdoch resigned from Sky’s corporate board. The son of Rupert Murdoch, James was an essential Brailsford ally. He served as Sky’s chairman of the board from 2007-2012 and green-lighted the biggest sponsorship deal in cycling history. With Murdoch gone in the wake of the Comcast deal, Brailsford could no longer count on a key in-house booster.
Even with Murdoch’s departure, initial indications were that it would be business as usual despite the corporate merger. At least that’s the early understanding that team insiders had.
Brailsford continued bolstering his squad, not only for the 2019 season but also for a future that doesn’t include four-time Tour winner Froome.
Over the course of several weeks this fall, Brailsford finalized a deal with current Tour champ Geraint Thomas through 2021. He was quietly working on a deal to bring promising South American climber Ivan Sosa to the team. His biggest move came when he signed Colombian sensation Egan Bernal to a five-year contract in early October.
Those are not moves from someone expecting his sponsorship deal to end in a little more than 12 months.
Then something changed inside the Comcast corporate offices. Publicly, officials have only said the decision to end Sky’s sponsorship was due to a change in direction.
According to sources, Brailsford received a call “about two weeks ago” to attend a meeting in London. That would put the date in late November. Brailsford was described as being “surprised” by what he soon found out: the sponsorship was due to end at the conclusion of the 2019 racing season.
Over the next several days, Brailsford quietly revealed the news to only a few key trusted senior members of the management staff. None of the daily staffers or riders got a whiff of the blockbuster news.
Without giving too much away, Brailsford also started to put out feelers to search for new title sponsors. The team confirmed it has not hired outside consultants to help in a sponsor search, at least not yet.
Brailsford kept up public appearances, not wanting to tip his hand. The team even posted an Instagram photo of Brailsford speaking at a team meeting on Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before he would reveal the news to everyone else within the organization.
Wednesday’s announcement that Sky is pulling out comes on the very same day that another British powerhouse, the McLaren Group, announced a deal to become a 50 percent owner of the Bahrain-Merida team.
On Wednesday morning, the official press releases were sent out. The team promised to keep a stiff upper lip and get on with the business of racing. Brailsford was scheduled to speak to British media. It was cycling’s best kept secret.
Read the full article at Timeline: How the Sky news played out on

Team Sky, cycling’s New York Yankees, will see its wings clipped at the end of next season.
Founding corporate backers Sky and minority stakeholder 21st Century Fox both confirmed in an unexpected announcement Wednesday they would end their support of the peloton’s richest team at the conclusion of 2019.
“The end of 2019 is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky’s story,” said Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Group Chief Executive in a statement.
Those words draw the curtain on one of cycling’s most successful sponsorships and immediately throws the future of the team into doubt.
While team sponsorships come and go, the announcement Wednesday brings an abrupt end to a 10-year partnership that delivered six Tour de France victories with three different riders.
There was no indication in official statements as to why the British media company was stepping away at the end of next season, but the decision appeared to catch team insiders off-guard.
Team principal Dave Brailsford recently penned long-term contract extensions with Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas as well as Colombian sensation Egan Bernal, the latter in an unprecedented five-year deal.
Private conversations among those close to Sky seem to suggest that Wednesday’s announcement was a surprise. One source said they had recently heard from team insiders the team’s future seemed secure.
Something changed, and now the future of the most dominant grand tour team of the past decade is thrown into doubt.
Team principal and founder Dave Brailsford said management vows to try to find new sponsorship to keep the team afloat. Finding the same level of backing as Sky’s could prove difficult, something that Brailsford seemed to admit in his comment.
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The implications are immediate for cycling’s super-team with the sport’s biggest budget at more than $35 million annually and the home of Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Thomas.
Brailsford will have less than a year to try to find new backers to keep together cycling’s most successful dynasty of the past decade. If he cannot, the peloton’s best-funded team would dismantle and some of the sport’s biggest stars would flood the market.
There was already speculation about the team’s future on a few fronts.
In September, U.S. media company Comcast bought most of the European entertainment company Sky in a blockbuster $38 billion deal. The takeover meant the departure of Brailsford’s longtime contacts within Sky, including James Murdoch, son of media titan Rupert Murdoch.
And then there was a pair of PR disasters involving 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Froome. The former was involved in a high-profile investigation into allegations of TUE abuses, while Froome spent much of 2018 fending off allegations over a disputed Salbutamol case.
While Froome was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, Wiggins and Sky management saw a rebuke from British government officials over Wiggins’ use of a powerful corticoid ahead of becoming Britain’s first Tour winner in 2012.
Corporate officials cited a shift in strategy for its decision to end cycling’s most expensive sponsorship.
“Sky’s decision to step back from cycling at the end of 2019 comes as the company begins a new phase in its development,” a statement read.
Brailsford, not immediately available for comment, said this in statement:
“We aren’t finished yet by any means. There is another exciting year of racing ahead of us and we will be doing everything we can to deliver more Team Sky success in 2019.”
Read the full article at Team Sky fall? Title sponsor to depart after 2019 on

A leading expert from the world of sporting and corporate sponsorship has told Cyclingnews that Team Sky have created a brilliant sponsorship template but that uncertainly over the current markets, and the negative fallout from doping stories, could all be factors in the team's ability to find a new headline sponsor. "One good thing that they've done is that they've created a template to follow," Richard Gillis, a managing partner at the Havas Agency in London, told Cyclingnews. "They showed how you sponsor a major cycling team. That's a playbook a new sponsor could just come in and copy. It's a brilliant piece of work and a real plus. But for the price they're asking, the sponsorship has to break out of the cycling world. The message has to reach more than just cycling fans."ADVERTISEMENT Gillis' reaction and insight comes after Sky announced on Wednesday that they would terminate their involvement with the WorldTour team at the end of the 2019 season. The collaboration started in 2010 and saw the team win six editions of the Tour de France with three different riders. However, changes of ownership at a corporate level and a shift in sponsorship focus at Sky have been listed as the main reasons for the end of the cycling sponsorship. There have also been several negative stories involving Team Sky and British Cycling - who Sky have also had a relationship with - owing to the Fancy Bears hack, the use of TUEs, a lack of medical records, and the salbutamol case involving Chris Froome, although he was eventually cleared after a lengthy investigation.
Sky to end sponsorship after 2019
Team Sky set 2019 Tour de France as deadline to find new sponsors
Acquadro confident Brailsford can save Team Sky
Chris Froome: We are not finished by any means
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One of cycling's leading agents has expressed his full confidence in Team Sky and Dave Brailsford to find a new sponsor for 2020 after Sky announced on Wednesday that they would be ending their long-standing commitment with the team at the end of the 2019 season. The news confirms an end to a relationship that goes back to 2010 and has seen the team court controversy but also win the Tour de France six times and almost every other major race in professional cycling. Rider agent Giuseppe Acquadro works with many of the top names in cycling and has 12 of 28 of Team Sky's riders on his books for 2019. It is little wonder that he is currently at the Team Sky camp in Mallorca. The riders were informed of the news regarding Sky on Tuesday night and Acquadro has Michal Kwiatkowski, Egan Bernal, Ivan Sosa, and Diego Rosa on his client list.ADVERTISEMENT "The atmosphere here is good," Acquadro told Cyclingnews as he went between meetings at the Team Sky camp. "The riders are all okay and they know that Dave is already working for a new sponsor and we all think that it will be okay. I'm confident and I think that the riders are too. I don't think that it's a really big surprise. It's been ten years and then a change of ownership at Sky. So it's not such a surprise." Team Sky have announced that they hope the team's future will be secured by the time the Tour de France comes around in July.
Sky to end sponsorship after 2019
Team Sky set 2019 Tour de France as deadline to find new sponsors
Team Sky created 'brilliant sponsor template' but may struggle to find replacement
Chris Froome: We are not finished by any means
Acquadro confident Brailsford can save Team Sky
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Team Sky have said they will make a decision on the survival of the team before the 2019 Tour de France, giving team manager Dave Brailsford and his staff just six months to find a new backer for the British WorldTour team. In an open letter to fans, the team confirmed that 2019 would be the set-up’s last season as Team Sky. It appears that Team Sky riders and staff were told the news at dinner on Tuesday evening, with Sky announcing the end of its involvement in professional cycling early on Wednesday morning. "This news has only just been announced; we can’t predict what will happen from 2020 and there are no guarantees. Whatever happens, we will make sure there is clarity one way or the other about the future of the Team before the Tour de France next July," the Team Sky letter reads.ADVERTISEMENT Sky has undergone a number of major corporate changes over the past year, sparking a review of its sponsorship plans. In December 2017, Disney bought a large portion of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox company, which included a 39 per cent stake in Sky. Murdoch had hoped to buy the larger controlling share of the company, but was outbid by US media giant Comcast in October. James Murdoch, who has played a key role in Team Sky’s funding, is expected to leave the company. Sky positioned its cycling sponsorship as part of what it calls its "Bigger Picture" work, which "focuses on the positive impact Sky can have in local communities and the wider world." Last year, Sky announced a new partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board, including a commitment to grow participation among children and at the grass roots. Sky said that cricket rather than cycling "will form a central part of Sky’s Bigger Picture activity in the coming years."
Sky to end sponsorship after 2019
Team Sky set 2019 Tour de France as deadline to find new sponsors
Team Sky created 'brilliant sponsor template' but may struggle to find replacement
Chris Froome: We are not finished by any means
Acquadro confident Brailsford can save Team Sky
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Sky will end its sponsorship of Team Sky at the end of the 2019 season, the team confirmed on Wednesday, forcing manager Dave Brailsford to search for a new backer if the team is to continue. The announcement also confirmed that 21st Century Fox would also end its partnership with the team at the end of 2019, marking the end of a 10-year era. Sky has sponsored the team since its inception in 2010, and also sponsored the Great Britain national team for several years. The team has won the Tour de France six times with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and this year Geraint Thomas.   "We came into cycling with the aim of using elite success to inspire greater participation at all levels. After more than a decade of involvement, I couldn't be prouder of what we've achieved with Team Sky and our long-standing partners at British Cycling. But the end of 2019 is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky's story," said Jeremy Darroch, the Sky Group's Chief Executive.ADVERTISEMENT Sky, the television broadcast company, has undergone a number of major changes over the past year. In December 2017, Disney bought a large portion of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox company, which included a 39 per cent stake in Sky. Murdoch had hoped to buy the larger controlling share of the company, but was outbid by US media giant Comcast in October. The sponsorship of Team Sky had been a project of Murdoch's son James and the buyout gave rise to rumours that it could spell the end of the team. The British newspaper the Telegraph later reported that the team would be safe, with Team Sky being "more Jeremy Darroch's project than Murdoch's". Despite the departure of Sky, team manager Dave Brailsford remains hopeful that they can secure a new sponsor for the 2020 season. Geraint Thomas recently signed a new contract that lasts until 2021, while Egan Bernal signed a five-year contract that runs until the end of 2023. Ivan Sosa is set to sign with the team for the 2019 season after backing out of a deal with Trek-Segafredo.
Sky to end sponsorship after 2019
Team Sky set 2019 Tour de France as deadline to find new sponsors
Team Sky created 'brilliant sponsor template' but may struggle to find replacement
Chris Froome: We are not finished by any means
Acquadro confident Brailsford can save Team Sky
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Cycling Australia have announced six of the seven riders who will represent Team UniSA-Australia at the 2019 Tour Down Under in January. Jason Lea, Dylan Sutherland, Ayden Toovey, Neil Van der Ploeg, Nick White and Oceania road race champion Chris Harper will ride for the team, with a seventh rider to be named following the Australian national championships in early January. Last week, Cycling Australia announced the UniSA-Australia line-up for the 2019 Santos Women's Tour Down Under, naming Lauren Kitchen, Anya Louw, Rachel Neylan, Emily Roper, Josie Talbot and Rebecca Wiasak, and will now eagerly await the team rosters for the other teams that they'll be up against at the women's event – January 10-13 – and the men's race, which runs from January 15-20, with the Down Under Classic on January 13.ADVERTISEMENT UniSA – the University of South Australia, in Adelaide – has sponsored a men's team at the Tour Down Under since 2001, which was the third edition of the event, and has been part of the race ever since, even taking the overall title in 2004 through Patrick Jonker. As of 2006, the Team UniSA-Australia squad has been the official Australian national team at the event, which over the years has provided young, up-and-coming Australian riders with the opportunity to compete against the world's best at the Tour Down Under, with many past team members going on to ride for WorldTour teams, including Richie Porte, Michael Matthews, Rohan Dennis, Alex Edmondson and Jack Haig. The 2018 season saw the first women's UniSA-Australia team at the Tour Down Under, providing young Australians with the chance to compete on the world stage, as well as an opportunity for Australian riders whose pro teams aren't part of the event's line-up to compete at their home race.
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McLaren and Bahrain-Merida have announced an exciting joint venture from the start of the 2019 road season with the overall aim of becoming the most successful team in professional cycling. The deal has been in the making for roughly a year with shared interests from the owners of both companies. The news will be officially announced on Wednesday at the Bahrain-Merida training camp in Croatia, with the McLaren logo on the team kit. Merida will stay as the secondary sponsor of the team, but McLaren's experience in Formula 1 will be relied upon to improve the team in some specific areas. At an event at McLaren's Woking base in early December, the company's Chief Marketing Officer John Allert – a long time cycling fan who grew up just a stone's throw away from Willunga Hill in Adelaide – announced the plans in front of a small gathering of journalists. Bahrain-Merida's general manager Brent Copeland was alongside Allert and added that the joint venture had the potential to revolutionise the sport. "This is great for cycling and maybe the most exciting thing that's happened in cycling for the last decade," Copeland said.ADVERTISEMENT "McLaren can help us out in so many areas. More and more topics come out as we talk about it. It's exciting for us, and it is for cycling in general. Their experience is unlimited." The news means an obvious jump in the team's overall budget, but the primary focus in 2019 will be for McLaren to gain experience in working with a WorldTour team on a long-term strategy. The company already know their work with Specialized but have already had time with both Rohan Dennis and Vincenzo Nibali in their technology centre and wind tunnel in Woking. Neither Copeland nor Allert would discuss the team's new budget or McLaren's share of the investment, but the plan at this stage is for both parties to work with Merida in 2019 in the hope that the bike supplier remains with them once their current contract expires at the end of next season. It's possible that McLaren could become a title sponsor in the future, alongside Bahrain. "What Bahrain-Merida have been able to achieve off a standing start in two years is phenomenally inspiring," said Allert.
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