Team Bahrain-Merida have confirmed Rod Ellingworth as their new team principal.
He will take up the role on October 1, but in the interim will be working with the team’s leadership to plan for the 2020 season and beyond.
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Ellingworth is currently on gardening leave from Team Ineos where he is one of their most senior staff members, having worked alongside Dave Brailsford since their British Cycling days, and will officially leave over the summer. He is no longer listed on the team’s website.
Bahrain-Merida’s current team principal Brent Copeland will continue working for the team but in a reduced role.
The 46-year-old will now go up against his old boss in WorldTour races and will find himself with similar financial backing. The team is owned by the Bahrain state with Formula 1 team McLaren (also owned by a Bahrain sovereign wealth fund) set to take a more prominent and active role.
One source close to the squad said there were plans to apply F1-level analytics to cycling and that the squad has ambitions to be “the Han Solo to Ineos’s Darth Vader”.
Chris Froome has said losing Ellingworth would be a “big blow” for the team. “Rod’s been there from the very start for me, even before the Team Sky days,” Froome said.
“It is a big blow. Suddenly we’re going to miss Rod Ellingworth at Team Ineos going forward.
“We obviously wish him all the best, he’s only going to keep adding a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new team in the future.”
Rod Ellingworth said: “I’m delighted to be joining Team Bahrain-Merida as team principal. Since the team’s break-through season in 2017, I’ve been impressed by its competitiveness. McLaren’s co-ownership of the team now provides a unique opportunity to look at every area of performance with a fresh perspective – and I find this massively appealing. I’m also excited by the opportunity to bring my own knowledge and ideas to the team and can’t wait to get stuck in.”