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No Mark Cavendish among nine contract extensions at Bahrain McLaren

ALMUZAHMIYA SAUDI ARABIA FEBRUARY 07 Grega Bole of Slovenia and Team BahrainMclaren Phil Bauhaus of Germany and Team BahrainMclaren Green Leader Jersey Jan Tratnik of Slovenia and Team BahrainMclaren Heinrich Haussler of Australia and Team BahrainMclaren Mark Cavendish of United Kingdom and Team BahrainMclaren Peloton during the 1st Saudi Tour 2020 Stage 4 a 137km stage from Wadi Namar Park to Al Muzahimiyah King Saud University SaudiTour on February 07 2020 in AlMuzahmiya Saudi Arabia Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Despite sponsorship headaches, the Bahrain McLaren team have taken a major step towards firming up their roster for 2021 by extending with nine riders, although Mark Cavendish is not among them. 

The team, which was founded by Bahraini prince Nasser bin Hahamd al Khalifa in 2017, has registered for 2021 as 'Bahrain Victorious' following the withdrawal of McLaren. The automotive company has suffered financially during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

On Sunday, Bahrain McLaren announced that nine of their current riders would be staying on into 2021, making up around a third of their squad. The riders in question are: Yukiya Arashiro, Phil Bauhaus, Chun-Kai Feng, Heinrich Haussler, Mark Padun, Hermann Pernsteiner, Marcel Sieberg, Jan Tratnik and Stevie Williams.

"Despite 2020 being such an unsettling year these guys have remained 100 per cent focused, so it’s great to have them part of our journey next year," said team manager Rod Ellingworth. 

"And as we close out this year, I feel there is a real sense of camaraderie in the team, and I think we’ll see that play out even more on the road next year. We will always be a rider first team, so the guys who are giving it everything on the bike are supported by staff equally committed to achieving success."

There was no room for Mark Cavendish in the round of extensions, with the 30-time Tour de France stage winner still looking for a contract for next year. Last month Ellingworth did not rule out the Manxman staying but the extensions are the latest indicator that his future lies away from the team. 

Bauhaus has been backed as the lead sprinter, with his lead-out man and fellow German, Sieberg, also signing up for another year at the age of 38. 

Haussler will turn 36 in February and is among three riders, along with Arashiro and Feng, who have been with the team since its inception as Bahrain Merida in 2017. Tratnik, Padun, and Pernsteiner have all renewed on the back of strong performances at the Giro d'Italia, with Tratnik winning a stage, Pernsteiner finishing 10th overall, and 24-year-old Padun helping Pello Bilbao finish fifth overall. 

The team have also placed faith in Williams after the Welshman's first pro season was ruined by a knee injury. The 24-year-old returned to racing after a 16-month absence in August and rode 10 stages of the Vuelta a España.

Bahrain McLaren had already extended with Dylan Teuns earlier in the year, as well as signing Jack Haig from Mitchelton-Scott. 

Leaving the team are Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) and Ivan García Cortina (Movistar).