Announcing his decision on Twitter, the 37-year-old Spaniard said the prospect of joining the new team was “impossible to resist”.
Rodriguez’s contract with Katusha expires at the end of the season and the veteran had planned to hang up his wheels after the Olympic Games road race. His team had other ideas, though, selecting him for three Italian Classics, including Il Lombardia.
The five-time Grand Tour podium finisher will join Vincenzo Nibali at the new Bahrain team, with his accumulation of WorldTour points from the 2016 season presumably helping the squad in their pursuit of a WorldTour licence in 2017.
This season, however, marked the first since 2002 in which Purito failed to win a race, with fourth place in the Clasica San Sebastian his best result. He also finished seventh at the Tour de France, fifth in the Olympic Games road race and eighth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Reports suggest that Rodriguez will ride for Bahrain-Merida for one season and continue in a technical role in 2017 and 2018. Team manager Brent Copeland previously told Cycling Weekly that rumours of Rodriguez’s signing were untrue.