Two years ago, rumours began brewing that investors from the Middle East wanted to put together a cycling team. The new team is now a reality. Initially it was built around Vincenzo Nibali of Italy (formerly with Astana), so included many Italian racers and staff alike. However, the 27-strong team of racers now has an international roster. The Spaniard Ion Izagirre caused a stir when he moved to the new Bahrain Merida team, especially since he had to buy himself out of his contract with former employer Movistar.
It’s certainly possible that in 2017 Izagirre will make a new attempt at a general victory in Bahrain Merida’s colours. Last year he came in second after Miguél Angel Lopez (Astana) of Columbia. The 28-year-old Izagirre had an impressive victory in the time trials in Davos and a strong showing in the previous two mountain stages, coming in eighth during the rainy sixth stage from Weesen over the Klausen Pass to Amden, and eighth again the next day in Sölden after the steep climb to the Rettenbach glacier.