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Bahrain WorldTour team set to require new title sponsor as McLaren ‘heads for exit’

UCI WorldTour cycling team Bahrain-McLaren is reportedly searching for a new title sponsor with the British automotive manufacturer McLaren considering exiting the sport.

McLaren took a step into cycling when it acquired the naming rights to the team in 2019, signing a contract to become a 50-per-cent joint venture partner in the team in 2018.

However, cyclingnews reports that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the company means it is reconsidering its association with the sport and likely to curtail its sponsorship presence in cycling by the end of 2020.

The team is owned by Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has already guaranteed to keep the team in operation for 2021.

A source close to the team told cyclingnews: “The team are onto something else, but they’ve not found anything concrete. The Prince is still backing things but he’s pretty much the only one keeping the team alive at the moment. McLaren’s focus is on keeping alive their F1 project.”

McLaren Group has been significantly impacted by the crisis, with 1,200 jobs cut at its UK base earlier this year.

The impact extended to Bahrain-McLaren with the team’s riders and staff taking wage deferrals of up to 70 per cent earlier this year in order to attempt to alleviate the impact on the team.

However, it seems this wasn’t enough to enable the brand to continue its sponsorship of the team beyond the end of 2020.

The 2020 UCI WorldTour will feature a revised calendar after the start of the season was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will begin with the Strade Bianche on August 1.