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Bahrain-McLaren confirmed their signing of British sprint superstar Mark Cavendish on Friday.
The Bahraini team, racing in 2019 as Bahrain-Merida, finally confirmed the one-year deal after a month of speculation.
“Joining this team is the fulfillment of a long-held ambition for me, and is super exciting and motivating,” said Cavendish in the statement released by his new team.
Bahrain-McLaren’s signing of team principal Rod Ellingworth was a key factor for 34-year-old Cavendish, with the pair having worked together at British Cycling and Team Sky.
The involvement of British technology and motorsport brand McLaren in the team was also a lure. Cavendish consulted with the brand in developing the bike that he rode to win the 2011 world championships. McLaren is now a 50 percent partner in the team.
“Having worked closely with McLaren in the past, and seen the benefits of their technology and processes, this was an opportunity I jumped at,” Cavendish said. “My relationship with Rod goes way back, and he’s been instrumental in helping me develop as a rider and a person.”
“Mark’s signing completes our rider roster for 2020 and gives us the balance the team needs to win,” said Ellingworth. “Mark is a proven champion and has a lot to contribute – both on and off the bike.”
John Allert, director of McLaren Pro Cycling, added that “Mark has been a friend of McLaren for many years – indeed it was partly our previous work with him that kindled our interest in the sport. It actually feels like Mark is coming home.”
Cavendish moves across from Team Dimension Data, where he has spent the past four seasons. During that time, his once-prolific career has faltered as he fought mononucleosis. Since back to health, he has struggled to re-find his form and didn’t make the team selection for the 2019 Tour de France.