Rod Ellingworth is to leave his role as team principal at Bahrain McLaren after just one year. The departure of the former British Cycling and Team Sky coach comes ahead of the team’s change to Bahrain Victorious next year following McLaren’s announcement that it is withdrawing from the sport.
Speaking last year, Ellingworth said that he had “agonised over” over moving to Bahrain-McLaren, having been a founding member of Team Sky’s management when it was set up ahead of the 2010 season.
“I debated long and hard with friends,” he said. “I even went to see [psychiatrist] Steve Peters at one point. But in the end, you know, it just felt like the right time … Sky were going in a completely different direction with Ineos coming in.”
Announcing his ambitions for his new team, he said he had, “no problem in saying that I want this team to become a Grand Tour-winning team. And yes, that means a Tour de France-winning team.”
The team’s best three-week result under Ellingworth turned out to be Mikel Landa’s fourth in the Tour de France.
Ellingworth said: “The time has come for me to move on. I have thoroughly enjoyed the chance to lead this team. There has been some fantastic momentum, and I feel I leave the team in a strong position.
“We’ve worked well together in this global pandemic to keep racing and have achieved some fantastic results. The team has pulled together and tried hard to keep everyone safe. The team were united through tough times, and it was a pleasure to be part of it. One of the highlights for me was achieving a fourth place in the general classification at the Tour de France.
He continued: “I want to thank the whole team for all their hard work and dedication. I wish the team all the best for the future and will follow their progress and progression. I’d like to thank the team’s founder, His Highness Shaikh Nasser, for his dedication and continued support of cycling.”
Ellingworth had said that the team’s technical director, Duncan Bradley of McLaren Applied Technologies [MAT], was “very much one of the reasons” why he had wanted to get involved.
“I see Duncan as absolutely critical to our potential success,” he said. “He’s a massive asset for us. Not just on the aero side but in terms of getting from A to B as fast as you can. Every element.”
Due to financial pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, McLaren Group announced 1,200 job cuts earlier this year and was forced to take out a £150m loan from the National Bank of Bahrain.
The firm subsequently announced that it would end its stint as the team’s title sponsor at the end of the 2020 season and Bradley left the team in October.
Commenting on Ellingworth’s departure, a spokesperson from Team Bahrain McLaren said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Rod for the expertise and wisdom he imparted on the team. The performance first ethos and winning mindset he instilled in every team member will endure. We wish Rod all the very best for the future.
The team is now wholly focused on its transition to Bahrain Victorious for next year, and we are looking forward to sharing more about our vision over the coming month. And it goes without saying, we can’t wait to get back to racing.”