Team Sky performance director Rod Ellingworth – a founding member of the team and a man who was also instrumental in delivering Mark Cavendish's 2011 World Road Race Championship win – is to join rivals Bahrain-Merida from next season.
The Telegraph reports that the performance director – who has also worked in several roles at British Cycling – has been in talks with the Italy-based team for several months.
Bahrain-Merida entered into a joint-venture partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies earlier this year with the latter due to step in as co-sponsor at the beginning of the 2020 season.
Speculation has been that the team will be called Bahrain-McLaren with Merida remaining as technical partner and bike supplier.
While the team has only a small British presence at the minute in the form of Welsh rider Stevie Williams, Vincenzo Nibali’s rumoured move to Trek-Segafredo would leave an opening for a new team leader. That said, all of Team Sky’s Grand Tour leaders remain in contract.
A Team Sky spokesperson said: “Rod Ellingworth will be leaving Team Sky to join Bahrain-Merida from next season. Ellingworth, who was a founder member of the team upon our formation in 2010, informed senior management of his decision earlier this season.
“He will remain with the team for the immediate future to ensure an amicable and smooth transition.
“Everyone at the team thanks Rod for his immense service and contribution during his time with us. The team will be making no further comment.”
Team Sky’s final race will be this year’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, after which it will become Team Ineos.
The team will first be seen at the Tour of Romandie in a one-off kit before its official launch at the Tour de Yorkshire.