Tour de France 2020

PYSO, ep. 67: Bahrain-McLaren’s Rod Ellingworth on preparing for the Tour de France

Making highly charged personnel selections is nothing new for Rod Ellingworth, who has a deep background with the British Olympic program. He explains how Bahrain-McLaren picked its 2020 Tour de France team, including the omission of his old associate Mark Cavendish.

Bobby Julich calls him Sir Rod. Bahrain-McLaren racers call him boss. You probably know Rod Ellingworth from his early coaching connection to Mark Cavendish. However you know him, the general manager of the WorldTour squad Bahrain-McLaren comes on the show today to talk about preparing for the Tour de France.

Getting an international team ready for the Tour is organized chaos in the best of times, with people, vehicles, and materials scattered around various countries in the weeks and days leading up to the Grand Départ. And this year of course is special, with coronavirus precautions adding layer upon layer of complexity.

“We had all the challenges, we didn’t just have the COVID challenge,” Ellingworth said. “Our partners were in trouble from a financial point of view, and that was potentially the biggest challenge that we had.”

Bahrain-McLaren recently announced that McLaren will not be returning as a sponsor next year.

Selecting which eight riders make the Tour de France team is a critical point for any team. Ellingworth explains how his background with the British Olympic program helps inform his selection criteria. Providing transparency and clarity into the selection process is key, he says.

“The sports directors give us the demands of the event, which then tells you how many climbers do you take, how many flat riders do you take, and so forth. So you’ve got the outline,” he said. “And then you say to each of those groups, this is what’s expected of you. This is the level that we’re expecting. This is the level of teamwork we’re expecting. So it’s all clearly written out in black and white for the whole team to see from very early.”

Check out see Bahrain-McLaren’s Tour de France team here.