Ellingworth and Cavendish signal start of Bahrain-McLaren’s second chapter

Ellingworth, Cavendish, and new sponsor McLaren join Poels and Landa at a new-look team with the Tour in its sights.

Photo: Getty Images

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Rod Ellingworth and Mark Cavendish signal the start of the second chapter for Bahrain-Merida, or Bahrain-McLaren in 2020.

Ellingworth, after leaving his coaching job of 10 years at Sky/Ineos, officially began work Tuesday as Team Principal. The team should announce his arrival and sprinter Cavendish’s in the next days – or hours – according to sources contacted by VeloNews.

Ellingworth coached Cavendish in his sprinting heydays that included handfuls of Tour de France stage wins and the 2011 World Championships road race title. He also coached Geraint Thomas both in the British Academy and Team Sky.

The team originally began in 2017 after Grand Tour star Vincenzo Nibali and Bahrain’s Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa rode bikes together. Milan Erzen, already the prince’s right-hand man, handled the logistics and Brent Copeland managed the powerful new WorldTour team.

Its biggest victories came thanks to Nibali, who won stages in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, and Milano-Sanremo in 2018 via a solo move over the Poggio. In 2020, the Italian joins Team Trek-Segafredo.

Next year, Brit Ellingworth will oversee the team in the way that David Brailsford ran the Sky/Ineos ship. He is bringing in Roger Hammond as performance manager and star riders like Mikel Landa and Wout Poels. Copeland will direct operations.

This second chapter includes British motorsport giant McLaren, now a 50 percent partner. The team should race as Bahrain-McLaren in 2020 and according to a source within the team, with new colors to reflect McLaren’s involvement.

And it becomes more Bahraini than before. The Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat owns 56% of McLaren.

The changes essentially supercharge an already high-performance team. Ellingworth, ahead of the pending official announcements, spoke with Telegraph about his plans to eventually win the Tour de France after “building the culture, getting to know each other, canvassing views.”

Ellingworth has been busy in the Woking Headquarters in South East England. He has not established any fixed targets, but he has been discussing goals with riders like Landa and Poels, and the team’s management.

“Although I’ve no problem in saying that I want this team to become a grand tour-winning team. And yes, that means a Tour de France-winning team,” he said.

“Never say never [to Landa or Poels winning the Tour]. Wout, for now I think, one-week stage races are really what he will target, at least initially.

“Mikel? He’s clearly one of the most gifted climbers in the world. So natural when he’s up on his pedals. I’m looking forward to working with him again. He’s starting to get to grips with what it takes to be a leader. And I think he’s bloody dangerous in the third week if the course is right for him. We’re going to find out.”

Ellingworth’s touches have already rippled through but bigger changes are likely to come in 2021 and beyond. He is “disappointed” that Rohan Dennis fell out with the team and is rumored to be joining Ineos or Movistar in 2020.

“I wanted Rohan to stay,” Ellingworth said. “He was definitely a part of my long-term plans so I’m disappointed at the way things have panned out.”

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