Mark Cavendish has finally announced his transfer to Bahrain-Merida for 2020, confirming the long-standing rumours.
The British sprinter will make the switch from Dimension Data and will be joining his old coach and mentor Rod Ellingworth, who has taken over as team principal at Bahrain.
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Cavendish, the winner of 30 Tour de France stages, will also be re-partnering with British motorsport company McLaren, which is now 50 per cent joint partner in the Middle-East-based WorldTour team. Cavendish and McLaren worked together to design the Specialized bikes Cavendish rode at HTC-Highroad.
The deal has been officially confirmed by Bahrain-Merida, but they have not revealed the length of the contract.
Announcing the move, the 34-year-old said: “Joining this team is the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for me and is super exciting and motivating. You could even say a dream come true.
“Having worked closely with McLaren in the past, and seen the benefits of their technology and processes, this was an opportunity I jumped at.
“My relationship with Rod goes way back, and he’s been instrumental in helping me develop as a rider and a person. I can’t wait to join my new teammates and do everything I can to help us achieve the successes I know will come.”
Cavendish was rumoured to be in talks with Bahrain-Merida last year as British motor racing giant McLaren came on board as 50 per cent partner in the team, but the deal fell through and the sprinter re-signed with Dimension Data for another year.
He now leaves South African squad Dimension Data after four seasons, after career high-point in 2016 with the team when he took four Tour de France stage wins and an ongoing trough in the last few years as he has battled long-standing illness, crashes, and struggled for results.
Cavendish was left out of Dimension Data’s Tour de France squad this year, which re-sparked rumours of a transfer, supported by the news that Ellingworth would leave Team Sky to take over management at Bahrain-Merida.
Ellingworth and Cavendish have a long history as coach and athlete, first working together at the British Cycling Academy, and going on to win the 2011 World Championships together, and a brief stint on the same team when Cavendish rode for Sky in 2012.
“Mark’s signing completes our rider roster for 2020 and gives us the balance the team needs to win,” Ellingworth said, “Mark is a proven champion and has a lot to contribute – both on and off the bike.
“Having last worked with him at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Qatar World Championships, I’ve been delighted to see that his energy and determination to succeed are greater now than ever. We’re going to do everything in our power to enable him to perform at his best.”