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Mark Cavendish signs for Bahrain-Merida

Mark Cavendish joins Bahrain-Merida for 2020
(Image credit: Bahrain-Merida)

Bahrain-Merida have confirmed the signing of Mark Cavendish for the 2020 season. The Briton joins the team from Dimension Data, where he had spent the past four seasons.

Cavendish will reunite with his former coach Rod Ellingworth, who has recently taken up the role of team principal at Bahrain-Merida. Ellingworth coached Cavendish in the British Cycling academy and managed the British squad that helped him to World Championships victory in Copenhagen in 2011.

 “Joining this team is the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for me… and is super exciting and motivating,” Cavendish said in a statement released on Friday.

“You could even say a dream come true. Having worked closely with McLaren in the past, and seen the benefits of their technology and processes, this was an opportunity I jumped at. 

"My relationship with Rod goes way back, and he’s been instrumental in helping me develop as a rider and a person. I can’t wait to join my new teammates and do everything I can to help us achieve the successes I know will come.”

Ellingworth hailed the arrival of Cavendish, who will join a roster that includes new signings Mikel Landa and Wout Poels, as well as Tour de France stage winner Dylan Teuns and fast men Phil Bauhaus and Sonny Colbrelli.

“Mark’s signing completes our rider roster for 2020 and gives us the balance the team needs to win. Mark is a proven champion and has a lot to contribute – both on and off the bike,” Ellingworth said. “Having last worked with him at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Qatar World Championships, I’ve been delighted to see that his energy and determination to succeed are greater now than ever. We’re going to do everything in our power to enable him to perform at his best.”

Cavendish enjoyed a fine debut season at Dimension Data in 2016, winning four stages of the Tour de France and wearing the yellow jersey, but his next two seasons were ruined by the Epstein-Barr virus and a succession of crashes. His last victory came in February 2018, when he won a stage of the Dubai Tour.

Although Cavendish said that he passed below the threshold for Epstein-Barr in May of 2019, his final season at Dimension Data was a difficult one. He failed to land a victory and he was omitted from the Tour de France selection despite the vocal objections of performance director Rolf Aldag, who is also leaving Dimension Data at the end of this year. Cavendish, who is currently in action on the track at the London Six, brought the curtain down on his road season when he abandoned Paris-Tours at the beginning of October.

It remains to be seen what race programme the 34-year-old will follow in 2020, though he will likely be keen to return to the Tour, which he missed for the first time in his 13-year professional career last July. Cavendish has won 30 stages at the Tour as well as the green jersey in 2011. He has also won the points classification (in 2013) and 15 stages at the Giro d’Italia, as well as three stages and the points classification at the 2010 Vuelta a España. He won Milan-San Remo in 2009.