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After his win in the 2019 Tour, Egan Bernal looked set to continue the domination of cycling by Ineos Grenadiers. But the Colombian’s life-threatening crash, and the team being left behind during the major shift in the sport over the last three years, has changed everything (Photo: Pauline Ballet)

Rod Ellingworth, deputy team principal at Ineos Grenadiers, has become the latest in a large number of recent departures from the team. Managers, performance staff and riders have left, including cutting their contract short, though the team was regarded as the most desirable employers in cycling until very recently.

The British squad is notorious for not engaging with the media, or its fans, and the news of Ellingworth’s departure has still not featured on the team’s social media channels or its website. The story of the departure was broken by Ben Cary in The Daily Telegraph. Cary has interviewed Ellingworth at length in the past and beat the cycling media to a big scoop this week.

The departure of the most senior day-to-day manager – team principal Dave Brailsford is now busy with other Ineos-backed sports, including soccer – reflects a team in decline, especially as so many others have also left. Those include young riders who expressed their delight not so long ago to be signed by the best team in the world, only to take the first opportunity to leave, including breaking a contract to do so.

All the departures – set out below – in quick succession come after the biggest blow of all for Ineos Grenadiers; the devastating crash suffered by Egan Bernal almost two years ago. While he has long resumed racing, he has not come close to recapturing his former condition. And the team still seems unable to digest and overcome that set-back; like a rabbit in the headlights with no ‘Plan B’ for winning a Grand Tour.

Aside from Ellingworth, who was among the founding management staff at the team, Matteo Tosatto, Roger Hammond and Ben Williams have also recently left. Tosatto was a sports director for six years and chose to leave for a role in Tudor Pro Cycling, an emerging ProConti team. Hammond, also a sports director, has left after less than two years as has Williams, the former head of performance and support who had joined the Queens Park Rangers soccer team in a senior performance role.

The riders who have recently exited include: Dani Martínez (Bora-hansgrohe on a four-year deal), Pavel Sivakov (UAE Team Emirates on a three-year deal), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Lidl Trek on a three-year deal), Ben Tulett (Jumbo Visma on a two-year deal), Luke Plapp (Team Jayco AlUla on a four-year deal, breaking his contract early with Ineos Grenadiers).

For its part, Ineos Grenadiers has given a short statement to the media, in reply to queries about Ellingworth’s departure. “The Ineos Grenadiers can confirm that deputy team principal, Rod Ellingworth, will be leaving the team at the end of the year. No further comment will be made at this stage,” it said.

Cary, the journalist who broke the story, also reported another big figure was due to leave the team soon, with the speculation in that regard centred on Brailsford. He has remained the principal at the team despite his role as director of sport at Ineos, with cycling just one part of that.

Brailsford’s continue role as the boss of the cycling team, despite having another bigger job, undermined Ellingworth, a factor that appears to have played a role in his departure.

With team sponsor, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, having just paid £1.3billion for a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United, Brailsford seems to be destined for a major role there, which would surely seal his exit from the cycling team.

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