(R-L) Quick-Step Floors' Italian rider Elia Viviani, Wilier Triestina Italian rider Filippo Pozzato and Italy's pro cyclist Vincenzo Nibali compete in the fifth stage of the Dubai Tour from Sky Dive Dubai to Dubai City Walk on Saturday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Bahrain-Merida team has opened its ambitions of sweeping The Tour de France using their star Vicenzo Nibali as the vital cog this season.

Formed in 2017 through a consortium of business partners from Bahrain and Merida, the group of riders has already registered some significant results with 53 podiums, including 11 stage wins, second place 16 times and another 26 times with third place.

“The goal for the first year was to build the team image and organise everything. But because the team has such an amazing group of riders and staff, we’ve already managed to deliver the results,” Bahrain-Merida’s most experienced rider Borut Bozic told Gulf News.

“The highlight definitely were the two podiums in the Grand Tour in our very first year of existence. Both these came from Nibali and that allowed us to be become the only Pro Cycling Team to achieve what no other team has done so far in their first year of existence,” the Slovenian cyclist added.

With 13 years of experience behind him, Borut is a key figure in the building up process of the Bahrain-Merida set-up. He has been among the important members of the squad since their founding last year. He has also been an important part of the Grand Tours with his skills and experience to assist the leaders in the team. But the focus this season will surely be on Nibali.

“We have been pretty clear with what we want to achieve with Bahrain-Merida after recruiting [Vincenzo] Nibali. There is a specific reason behind him joining us, and that is winning at the big ones like the Giro [d’Italia], the Vuelta [Espana] and The Tour de France,” Bokic related.

“Last year was great and we have already bagged two podiums [at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta Espana]. For the first year of a ProTour Team this is really a big result, probably the first Pro Tour Team that has started so well. I hope and we think this year we will do a very good,” he added.

“For us there are no second thoughts. The Tour de France is what we want to win and it will be Nibali going all the way to win this. It is no secret. We are in it to win it. He has already won all three Grand Tours, so we don’t see any reason why he can’t do it again,” Bokic insisted.