Cavendish to link up with Rod Ellingworth at Bahrain-Merida

Mark Cavendish will officially be confirmed as a Bahrain-Merida rider on Friday.

Following much rumour and speculation over the past two months, the Manxman will sign for the team now headed by former Team Ineos performance director Rod Ellingworth.

The length of what is understood to be a “substantial” deal will not be disclosed, but the PA news agency understands both parties envisage the 34-year-old sprinter finishing his career with the team.

2016 Tour de France – Stage Two – Saint-Lo to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
Mark Cavendish is a 30-time stage winner on the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey in 2016 (Ian Parker/PA)

Cavendish’s move brings to an end four years at Team Dimension Data, where things began brightly as he won four stages of the Tour de France in 2016 to take his career total to 30.

But he has not added to that tally since, with his 2017 Tour ended by an early crash before he began what has been a long battle with the Epstein-Barr virus, which was initially misdiagnosed.

Cavendish’s relationship with the team was badly damaged in the summer when he was controversially left out the their squad for this year’s Tour by team principal Doug Ryder, against the wishes of performance director Rolf Aldag who believed he was ready to compete.

He will end 2019 without a victory on the road, but Cavendish has looked on good form this week as he has enjoyed some success at Six Day London – an event which could herald a possible tilt at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

Phynova Six Day Cycling – Day Two – Lee Valley VeloPark
Mark Cavendish has celebrated victory this week at Six Day London (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Cavendish will find a number of familiar faces at Bahrain-Merida, the Middle East-based team that has entered into a growing partnership with McLaren, a company he has worked with in the past.

Cavendish has previously described Ellingworth as the “most undervalued person in British Cycling”, having come through the national academy the 47-year-old founded in 2004.

Ellingworth left Ineos earlier this year after it was announced he would become team principal with Bahrain-Merida, a move seen as confirming McLaren’s growing influence within the team after the company became a 50 percent joint venture partner last winter.

📢 BIG ANNOUNCEMENT 📢#McLaren to become joint venture partner in #BAHRAINMERIDA🇧🇭

🎙️ GM @copelandbrent "The combination of our passion and vision to be a winning team, with McLaren expertise and dedication is the perfect partnership"

📝 Read more https://t.co/dPSwBd5rHMpic.twitter.com/eEqymOMHbM

— Team Bahrain Merida (@Bahrain_Merida) December 12, 2018

Roger Hammond, who worked with Cavendish at Dimension Data before leaving last year, is also due to join as a sports director while Welsh cyclist Scott Davies has made the move on a two-year deal.

It is understood that no conversations have yet taken place about whether the team would support Cavendish in a bid to ride on the track in Tokyo next summer.

But given the long history between Cavendish and Ellingworth, they should be able to quickly agree on a race programme for next year.

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