Team Sky keep tight-lipped on rider selection

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Rod Ellingworth has been busy lately, working on plans for the launch of Team Sky, and putting together a programme to help a British rider to win the World Championship road race in the near future.

Ellingworth, 36, spent some time at the Giro d'Italia as Team Sky continues to negotiate with riders ahead of the launch later this year.

He said plans were progressing quickly, but that Dave Brailsford, the team's principal, and the rest of the management team wanted to keep details under wraps until everything was confirmed.

"There's going to be rumours, of course there are, but we want to do things the right way," said Ellingworth. "We're not going to comment on rumours because if we did we'd be commenting on everything. Dave [Brailsford] is determined to do this professionally and so we won't officially comment on riders until September 1."

September 1 is the date the UCI says riders and teams can reveal their new signings for the coming season.

Ellingworth added: "I was out in Italy and of course discussions are going on. You can't build a bike team without talking to bike riders. But we don't want to upset people. We haven't been swanning round in Team Sky or Great Britain clothing. We've been trying to do things professionally and quietly.

"As you'd expect, though, we are working on every aspect of the team. Riders, bikes, equipment, kit, logistics, we're putting everything in place and it's all really exciting."


Meanwhile, Ellingworth is working on Project Rainbow Jersey, a plan to help a British rider - most likely to be Mark Cavendish - to win the world road race championship.

Ellingworth has targeted Melbourne next year as a possibility with Copenhagen in 2011 likely to offer an even greater chance of a sprint finish.

All the British riders likely to feature in a future World Championship team will meet up for two days before the National Championships at the end of the month as Ellingworth seeks to create a team structure and spirit.

"It's about creating a team to take on the world," he said. "When you look at it, only one rider from this country has ever won the men's road race, and that was Tom Simpson in 1965. What an incredible race it would be to win."

Ellingworth has compiled a DVD of the course that will be used for this year's Worlds in Mendrisio in Switzerland, even though he knows there's not a great chance of a medal.

"We probably can't win it this year, well, we almost certainly can't win it, but there's no point going into the race without goals. We're building a team and we'll focus on this year's Worlds as strongly as next year, because it'll take time to build a team capable of doing it."

However, Ellingworth stressed that the riders would not ride as a team in the National Championships. "They'll all race for themselves or their trade teams," he said. "I won't say anything to them about tactics for the National Championships. It's nothing to do with me, it's up to the riders to race their race."

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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.