The recent management changes announced by the Bahrain-Merida squad have had no visible negative impact on the riders in recent weeks with Vincenzo Nibali finishing second overall at the Giro d’Italia and Dylan Teuns currently leading the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Teuns, who won the second stage of the French stage race and holds a slender lead ahead of the all-important time trial on stage 4, believes that the recent appointment of Rod Ellingworth could have a positive impact on the team.
Ellingworth left Team Ineos in May after Cyclingnews broke the story that he was in negotiations with Bahrain-Merida. Those discussions were led by McLaren who are set to increase their influence in the management of the team in 2020 and become the second sponsor. They bought into the team last winter and have a 50 per cent stake in the running of the squad.
Their appointment of Ellingworth as the team principal originally cast doubt over the future of current team manager Brent Copeland but it now appears McLaren are keen to keep the South African on board owing to his experience in running the team and his extensive contacts within the world of professional cycling.
Ellingworth, who has years of experience from his time at British Cycling and Team Sky, does not officially start his new role of team principal until October, but he will be well aware of the rider changes for next year. Nibali is leaving for Trek-Segafredo, with Mikel Landa set to replace him after agreeing terms several months ago. Double Giro d'Italia stage winner Pello Bilbao is also set to join Bahrain from Astana.
Teuns was signed to the team by Copeland at the end of 2018 and has found some excellent form and results at the Critérium du Dauphiné. When asked about the management changes he appeared relaxed and told the media at his stage 3 press conference that they were a positive step.
“It’s not really for this season; it’s more about what’s going on next season. It can be a good change. We’re already in good development year. We had Vincenzo on the podium at the Giro and I’m performing well here. We’re working well and in the future it can only go better.”
McLaren’s involvement so far in terms of rider development has been centered around Nibali and their lead time trialist Rohan Dennis. Both riders will start the Tour de France in July but Dennis has yet to hit his stride in his new colours. He was also brought to the team by Copeland at the end of last season having moved across with Teuns and Damiano Caruso from the new defunct BMC Racing.
“That’s more of a question for Rohan,” Teuns said when asked about McLaren’s current level of support.
“He’s more of a time trial specialist and he’s a lot of advantage in testing in the wind tunnel with McLaren. I’ve not been there yet but maybe it will happen in the winter but in these terms they’re working really hard on the future.”
As for the Dauphine and his current ambitions, Teuns will be hard pressed to keep his overall lead after the 26.1km test around Roanne. His time trials at Paris-Nice and the Itzulia Basque Country race were certainly respectable but Jakob Fuglsang sits just 20 seconds off the yellow jersey, with a Thibaut Pinot, Chris Froome and Wout Poels another four seconds back. That said, Teuns is unwilling to surrender his lead without a fight.
“I have a small advantage on the big names in the GC. It’s 26km but it’s not super long or short. I have some confidence from the last time trials I’ve done this year and I need to believe in myself,” he said.