Bahrain McLaren are building something… Their website tagline states:
‘Welcome to the new era of Cycling’
We don’t doubt it. Around the office here at Avenir there has been much chat and opinions thrown out there about this rumbling from the team founded by His Highness Shaikh Nasser 3 years ago.
Building on the foundations that the team have formed over the last 3 seasons as Bahrain Merida, for 2020 there seems to have been a significant step-change for the team, and an approach we haven’t seen since Team Sky rocked up in the peloton over a decade ago.
In 2009, many teams were caught out by the arrival of the well-funded, extremely well managed team, whose Team Principal brought 15 years of Team GB Gold Medal, Record Breaking experience, science and knowledge to the road scene.
Despite winning their opening race down in Australia, it understandably took a few seasons for the new team to bed in, until it really came of age in 2012, with Sir Bradley winning the Tour de France.
And since then the Winning really hasn’t really stopped at the Tour de France (except 2014 - Nibali), plus, throw in a Giro d’Italia and a Vuelta too, courtesy of Froome-Dog.
As a GC-orientated team, we’re not saying they are a completely overwhelming force in the whole WorldTour scene - they haven’t necessarily dominated the Classics, big one-day races, the Giro or Vuelta, however Sir Dave made it clear he wants to win all 3 Grand Tours in a single-year.
Since then, teams have struggled to make the step change to compete at the Tour. Clearly the program Sky/Ineos have created works - there is no denying that. Maybe it does start with the budget, however there are other well-funded teams in the WorldTour. So there has to be more to it.
We’ve seen evolution in approaches from other teams. We saw responses from Orica-Scott (now Mitchelton-Scott), Movistar, Tinkoff and Astana, however nothing really on the scale needed to take on this new race-dominating formula.
It seems like Bahrain-Merida/McLaren sat down one day and said, “yep, we’re in, let’s do it”.
Ok Ineos, you have an F1 partner in Mercedes? No problem, we’ve now got McLaren, oh and our UK base is now at the McLaren HQ.
We’re gonna poach Sir Dave’s Number 2, Rod Ellingworth (who has served under Sir DB for 15 well over a decade). And then we are going to pump money into the roster, the kit and equipment. Not only did they bring all of the Sky/Ineos winning formulas to the team, they also brought Ellingworth’s contacts. The new signings for 2020 came as no real surprise.
Not only signing strong GC riders like Landa and Poels, but also climbing sensation Pello Bilbao, backed up by high-quality riders like Caruso and Dylan Teuns. Oh, and did we mention their sprint roster? Sonny Cobrelli, Phil Bauhaus, Ivan Cortina, and the legend of Mark Cavendish, who has worked with Rod E for much of his career at British Cycling and his spell at Sky.
Surely with a roster as strong as that, along with the know-how, backing and funding, they are the main contender team to take on the performance powerhouse of Ineos in the GC battle? They certainly have more strength in the one-day and sprint races, as Ineos don't tend to favour those. Notably with the then World Champ Cavendish, and later Viviani struggling for support.
Here at Avenir we make no secret of the fact we are Ineos fans. However we are really excited to see the response from the other teams in the Peloton to knock Ineos off the top step of the podium in Paris, and Bahrain McLaren are our main pick.