McLaren Group has entered the world of professional cycling by becoming a 50% joint venture partner in UCI World Tour team Bahrain Merida.

The cycling team was established in 2017 by Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and is supported by the government of Bahrain. The team came seventh in the 2018 UCI World Tour.

McLaren Group’s majority stakeholder is Mumtalakat, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund, and the new partnership will bring together technology, human performance and marketing expertise with the intention of building the team into a globally-recognised brand.

John Allert, McLaren’s Chief Marketing Officer, said: “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.”

For over 50 years McLaren has been involved with Formula 1 racing, while in recent years the company has also applied its technical knowledge to cycling. The company worked with the British cycling team ahead of the 2012 Olympics, and developed a racing bike with US bike manufacturer Specialized.

Allert added: “What Team Bahrain Merida has achieved in less than two years, off a standing start, is hugely impressive. Working together with a team this driven is a very exciting prospect indeed.”

Shaikh Nasser, the team’s owner, said: “Our parternship 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.”

Team Bahrain Merida is led by Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali, who won the Tour de France in 2014. In its first UCI World Tour the team came 14th, followed by seventh in 2018.

Like UAE Team Emirates, Team Bahrain Merida is linked to a country rather than a title sponsor, and Shaikh Nasser has maintained a close involvement with the team.

“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,” Nasser said.