McLaren enters professional cycling with Bahrain-Merida

McLaren will enter the world of professional cycling after announcing a joint venture with Team Bahrain-Merida.

The deal will see McLaren apply its racing know-how to the cycling team, which counts 2014 Tour de France winner Vicenzo Nibali among its riders.

Both the racing and cycling teams are Bahraini-owned, McLaren by the country's sovereign wealth fund and Bahrain-Merida by Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of the Bahrain royal family.

The project will be run through McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT), which sits as part of the McLaren Group alongside the racing team and works across a number of different industries. MAT has worked on cycling projects before with Team GB ahead of the 2012 London Olympics and with bicycle manufacturer Specialized.

"Racing, technology and human performance are at the heart of everything we do at McLaren," John Allert, McLaren's chief marketing officer, 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.

Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa added: "Our partnership with McLaren is one that gives me great national pride and excitement for the future of Bahrain cycling. We want to be the best in the world and an example to others of how to compete in this most challenging of elite sports.

"The partnership with McLaren will provide invaluable expertise and experience of getting the best out of machines and athletes and will help to accelerate our team's journey to the pinnacle of professional cycling."

The announcement followed confirmation from Sky on Wednesday that it will end its involvement in professional cycling at the end of 2019, including its backing of Team Sky, which has dominated the sport in recent years.