Team Ineos performance director Rod Ellingworth is set to become the team principal at Bahrain-Merida, Cycling Weekly can reveal.
Last month, Team Ineos announced that Ellingworth would be leaving the squad to join the Bahrain-Merida team but there were no details about his new role.
CW now understands that he is poised to take up the role of team principal at the squad, which is currently headed by Brent Copeland. Copeland is set to continue in a reduced role at the team.
Ellingworth is currently on gardening leave from Team Ineos and will officially be out over the summer. He is no longer listed on the team’s website.
While various sporting staff have over its ten-year history left the squad for other teams Ellingworth, who was also part of the British Cycling set up alongside Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford for years, is the most senior staffer yet to join another team.
He will now go head-to-head with his former boss on the world stage.
At Bahrain-Merida Ellingworth, like Brailsford, will find himself with substantial financial backing – the team is owned by the Bahrain state – and scientific resources too 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”.
Bahrain-Merida declined to comment but the managing director of pro cycling at McLaren, John Allert, said: “We are 12th now or so on the team rankings, so it’s clear we are going to make changes to become the best. You look at other teams, they have layers of riders coming through, and we need that.”
Shortly after Ellingworth’s departure from Ineos was announced, Chris Froome said it 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.”