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McLaren reportedly looking to end UCI WorldTour team sponsorship

Bahrain-McLaren on search for new sponsor as automotive firm focuses on F1

McLaren ​is reportedly looking to end its sponsorship of UCI WorldTour team Bahrain-McLaren just a year and a half after it entered the sport.

The team, which is run by Rod Ellingworth and signed Mark Cavendish on a one-year deal for this season, is currently looking for a replacement sponsor, reports Cyclingnews.com.

The automotive group, which is majority-owned by Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, originally took a 50 per cent stake in the team, then known as Bahrain-Merida, in December 2018.

It took over title sponsorship of the UCI WorldTour outfit from the start of last season, with the team renamed Bahrain-McLaren, although Merida continues as bike sponsor.

Due to financial pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, however, McLaren Group, which has announced 1,200 job cuts, was forced to take out a £150 million loan from the National Bank of Bahrain.

The bank is 44 per cent owned by Mumtalakat Holding Co, the same sovereign wealth fund entity that owns McLaren Group.

Confirmation of the loan announced days before the delayed start to the Formula 1 season, and the group has said that it wants to focus on that sport going forward.

A McLaren Group spokesman said: “We are working closely with Team Bahrain-McLaren to prepare for the resumption of cycling.

“As with all our activities, we continuously work to evaluate brand fit and reach with global audiences.”

The cycling team’s management company is owned by Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini royal family, who is reportedly prepared to continue to finance the team next year if no replacement sponsor can be found.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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