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Ellingworth: I wanted to keep Rohan Dennis at Bahrain-Merida

UCI Road World Championships 2019
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Rod Ellingworth has admitted that he wanted to keep Rohan Dennis at Bahrain-Merida. The Australian rider was cut from the team’s roster last month with a year left on his contract.

Dennis made headlines at the Tour de France in July when he walked out of the race on the eve of the individual time trial – his specialty – after issues surrounding equipment supplied to him. He did not race again for the team but bounced back in September to retain his world time trial title in Australian colours. 

Ellingworth officially took over at Bahrain-Merida on October 1 after a period on the sidelines following his departure from Team Ineos in April. He has joined Bahrain-Merida as their Team Principal but his start date came after Dennis’ two-year contract was terminated on September 13. Dennis is currently taking Bahrain-Merida to a tribunal over the matter and, in an interview with the Telegraph, Ellingworth admitted that he'd hoped to see the Australian stay at the team.

"One thing I will say is I wanted Rohan to stay," Ellingworth told the British newspaper. 

 "He was definitely a part of my long-term plans so I’m disappointed at the way things have panned out."

Dennis is currently without a team for 2020 but Ellingworth’s main focus is stamping a new identity on Bahrain-Merida, with the team set to race under the Bahrain-McLaren banner next season. Ellingworth was key in bringing in new faces - both on the roster and the backroom staff – with Wout Poels and Mikel Landa brought in from Team Ineos and Movistar, respectively. Tim Harris and Roger Hammond will complement the existing staff, while Brent Copeland focuses on the operational side of the squad.

With Vincenzo Nibali heading to Trek-Segafredo it will be up to Landa and Poels, who both rode at Team Sky during Ellingworth’s time at the squad, to deliver in stage races. According to Ellingworth’s Telegraph interview, Poels will focus on week-long stage races, as Landa dials his focus towards the Tour de France next summer.

"Mikel? He’s clearly one of the most gifted climbers in the world. So natural when he’s up on his pedals. I’m looking forward to working with him again," Ellingworth said.

"I know he had a bit of a reputation at Sky but I never found him a pain in the arse. I feel when speaking with him that’s he’s asking more questions, he’s more proactive. He’s starting to get to grips with what it takes to be a leader. And I think he’s bloody dangerous in the third week if the course is right for him. We’re going to find out."