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McLaren enters pro cycling sponsorship with Bahrain-Merida

Joe Robinson
12 Dec 2018

British-based company enters 50 per cent joint venture with team of Vincenzo Nibali

As one British sponsor leaves professional cycling another enters as the car company and Formula One giant McLaren announced today it has become a main sponsor of the Bahrain-Merida team.

The British-based, Bahraini-owned automotive company will now become a 50 per cent joint venture partner in the Middle Eastern team while harbouring a 'long-term vision to participate at the top level of the sport' as the team looks set to become one of the wealthiest squads in the WorldTour, not only in finances but also resources. 

McLaren is one of the biggest names in motorsport, second only to Ferrari in terms of success in Formula One. The current setup works upon a budget of over £200million a year and while this same investment is unlikely in cycling, it is guaranteed the team of 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali will benefit from its vast resources.

The partnership will be based around utilising McLaren's Applied Technologies and marketing departments which currently accounts for almost 700 staff and a state-of-the-art wind tunnel. 

In a statement from the team, it commented that 'the move signals the continued ambition of the McLaren Group to innovate at the intersection of technology and human endeavour, and reflects the collective vision of its Bahraini ownership to unite its investments in sport and technology through McLaren and Team Bahrain Merida.

'McLaren Applied Technologies undertakes challenging projects that naturally fit with McLaren’s skills, experience and technical capacity. Competition, racing and the combination of athlete and machine are the lifeblood of McLaren’s 50-year-plus history and cycling is one of the rawest examples of all those elements coming together.'

McLaren's relationship with cycling does not begin with this new venture. British Cycling and Team Sky worked alongside McLaren's Applied Technologies department in the leadup to the 2012 London Olympics while McLaren also partnered with American bike brand Specialized on the development of the S-Works McLaren Venge which was raced by Mark Cavendish at the 2011 Tour de France.

Chief marketing officer at McLaren, John Allert, commented on the venture and the ambition of developing one of the world's leading teams.

'Racing, technology and human performance are at the heart of everything we do at McLaren. 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,' said Allert.

'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.'

Brent Copeland, Bahrain-Merida general manager, also spoke on the move stating that '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.'

Bahrain-Merida and McLaren's partnership coincides with the decision of another British-based company, Sky, to withdraw from cycling after nine years in the sport.

The successful team now faces a battle to gain new sponsorship as the television broadcaster walks away from the sport at the end of 2019.