Team Sky's Rod Ellingworth has been approached by McLaren to be part of the Bahrain-Merida senior management, Cyclingnews understands. Ellingworth is the current Performance Director at Team Sky.
McLaren joined forces with Bahrain-Merida at the start of this year and are due to step in as a co-sponsor at the beginning of the 2020 season with speculation of the team to be called Bahrain-McLaren next year. Merida is in discussions to remain as a technical partner and bike supplier.
McLaren's growing financial influence and their input in technological knowledge have led to them exploring ways of altering the team management at Bahrain-Merida, with Cyclingnews informed from several sources that McLaren has been in contact with Ellingworth for several months. When contacted by Cyclingnews a spokesperson for McLaren would only say that "McLaren policy is to never comment on personnel matters."
Cyclingnews understands that McLaren's interest in Ellingworth goes back several months, although a deal between Ellingworth and McLaren has not yet been signed. A source with knowledge of the situation told Cyclingnews on Wednesday evening that: "McLaren have been talking to Rod for some time and their interest is real. If it all goes through, he'll join as part of the senior management."
Cyclingnews understands that while Bahrain-Merida's management are unaware, Team Sky's Dave Brailsford has been informed that Ellingworth could be on the move. When contacted by Cyclingnews Bahrain-Merida's general manager, Brent Copeland, was unaware of the situation and declined to comment. Dave Brailsford also declined to comment when contacted.
Ellingworth has been with Team Sky since their inception in 2010 and has been part of the team's backroom staff during five Tour de France victories. Before his time at Team Sky, the coach held several positions within British Cycling, including the role as the coach of the U23 Academy. Until last year he was a selector and manager of the men's elite British road team.
Like Brailsford and Copeland, Ellingworth would not comment on the situation.
Bahrain-Merida currently have no high profile British riders and their main threat for the Grand Tours, Vincenzo Nibali, is set to move to Trek-Segafredo next season. That departure would free up budget for the squad to tie-up another leading stage racer; however, none of Team Sky's current crop of Grand Tour leaders are out of contract this year.