With 14 riders out of contract at the end of the current season Bahrain McLaren are set to be one of the busiest players in the rider transfer market for the 2021 season. As well as scouting for new talent and recruiting new faces, they also face the challenge of keeping their most sought-after assets.
The team certainly have a clearer vision of where they want to get to in the next few seasons and since the arrival of Rod Ellingworth last year, the goal is to win the Tour de France. That ambition might not come this season but in Dylan Teuns and Ivan Cortina – both out of contract – the team still have two very talented riders who they are aiming to retain.
Teuns, 27, is certainly the more experienced of the two, and the more accomplished. He won a stage in the Tour de France last year and has picked up a number of week-long stage racing victories. Just recently, he won the time trial in Ruta del Sol and finished fifth on GC. His results in one-day races are impressive too, with third in Il Lombardia in 2018 and another podium at La Flèche Wallonne in 2017.
Cortina, 24, is a different style of rider but he won a stage in last year’s Tour of California and is seen as an athlete of considerable potential, with a string of quality results since moving into the WorldTour at the start of 2017.
“At the end of the day you always want to keep your talent. Why would you not? It’s a small world, there’s a lot of talk but we know where we want to go with this team, and there’s a lot of planning. I’m quite clear with the riders we want to keep on the team,” Ellingworth told Cyclingnews at the UAE Tour, when asked about the future of both riders.
“We’ve got 14 riders out of contract this year, so I see this as a great opportunity as a team, to drive in the direction that we want to go in. Talking about them two, they’re very talented bike riders. I don’t want to discuss the finer details but they’re talented bike riders. No one wants to see talent go, but at the same time other teams will want them too. We can only offer them what’s possible for us, and they know the vision of this team. It’s sort of down to them at that point. You’d be keen on them both staying.”
Cyclingnews understands that discussions with Teuns have already been set in motion. Ellingworth was coy on the subject but certainly praised the Belgian, who continues to develop into one of the most consistent all-rounders. Last year, for instance, he won a stage and wore yellow at the Critérium du Dauphiné. He eventually finished sixth on GC. After winning is Tour de France stage at La Planche des Belles Filles he raced the Vuelta a España, where he claimed 12th overall.
“Dylan, obviously, he’s in great form so far. We’ll be very quick into discussing contracts and the future years,” Ellingworth said.
Cortina picked up two top-ten places in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana earlier in the year but came down with a bug last week. It’s not clear when he will next race but Ellingworth expects him to be firing on all cylinders in the coming weeks and months.
“Cortina was sick last week and that’s why he missed Andalucia. It was just normal flu symptoms, which was a shame for him because the Classics mean a lot for him. We’re still not sure if he’s going to ride Opening Weekend. We’ll make the decision tomorrow but he’s back in training. They panic more than anything when they lose a bit of training.”
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