Brothers Ion and Gorka Izagirre will leave Team Bahrain-Merida at the end of the 2018 season and it’s likely they’ll be going to UAE Emirates.
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Cycling Weekly understands UAE Team Emirates should sign them for 2019 on a three-year deal. Team Sky was also reportedly interested.
General manger of Bahrain-Merida, Brent Copeland could only confirm that they are leaving his team.
“It’s a pity to lose Izagirre bothers,” Copeland said. “We have good replacements with Rohan Dennis, Damiano Caruso and Dylan Teuns. I don’t know where they are going.
“They are great riders to work with, very respectful and hard workers who are always solid and consistent but they don’t win much and the price their agent was asking was over market value as far as I’m concerned.”
The high amount the agent asked for indicates that the brothers have already inked a deal with another WorldTour team for the 2019 season.
Ion, 29, raced in the past with Euskaltel-Euskadi and Movistar, winning the Morzine stage at the Tour with the latter team in 2016. He joined Bahrain-Merida in the team’s first year in 2017.
Gorka, 30, only joined Bahrain-Merida in 2018. In 2017, racing for Movistar, he won the Giro d’Italia‘s Peschici stage.
Copeland made deals with other riders and took advantage of BMC Racing initial lack of sponsorship for 2019.
He signed Rohan Dennis – stage winner and wearer of the pink jersey in the 2018 Giro d’Italia – Damiano Caruso and Dylan Teuns from BMC Racing.
He also brings on Brit Stephen Williams from SEG Racing Academy, winner of the Ronde de l’Isard stage race.
UAE Team Emirates would not confirm that the two brothers would join the team for 2019. A Team Sky spokesperson explained, “We don’t comment on speculation or rider contracts.”