Nibali could join a new Bahraini team next season

Vincenzo Nibali, who will be free at the end of the season, has been linked to a major new professional cycling team that could be created by Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa of the Bahrain royal family, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The prince published a message on social networks: “It’s real!!! I would like to officially announce the birth of Bahrain cycling team. Our main effort is to introduce the cycling sport, encourage and support young athletes, to maintain a healthy life style in our region, and to compete with the best teams in the world.”

Bjarne Riis could be involved in this creation, according to Cyclingnews. The Dane will make his plans public at a meeting in Copenhagen on February 25 says the man behind the Saxo Bank sponsorship, Lars Seier Christensen.

Nibali’sĀ agent, Alex Carera, had informed that he is talking with Astana, Trek-Segafredo and Lampre Merida. But with his new team, the negociations will raise the stakes :

“Vincenzo is the only Grand Tour winner whose contract ends in 2016 and so it’s natural that there’s a lot if interest in signing him,” said Carera. “Several teams have been in contact with us and its widely known that Astana are very keen to keep Vincenzo and that the Trek-Segafredo and Lampre-Merida are also interested. We’re ready to talk to anyone who has a serious project for a major team in 2017. We would then study the options available to Vincenzo and make a pondered decision. The arrival of any new team in cycling is always good news. However, it is too early to say which team Vincenzo will ride for in 2017. Any decision will only be made after the Giro d’Italia and later in the summer.”