Rod Ellingworth has resigned as deputy team principal of Ineos Grenadiers, Telegraph Sport understands.
The departure of one of the founder members of the team – Ellingworth was part of the original management lineup when Team Sky was formed in 2009 – represents another big break with the past for a squad which feels as if it has been in transition for a few seasons.
The resignation may well be followed by another in the near future. Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford, who is director of sport at Ineos, is being lined up for a senior management position at Old Trafford once Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s takeover of 25 per cent of Manchester United is confirmed. It remains to be seen whether Brailsford will step back from his cycling role.
The reasons for Ellingworth’s departure are unclear but there have been rumours in recent months about tensions in the running of the team. Ellingworth was in charge day to day but never had the final say in transfers or strategy. Brailsford, meanwhile, has been largely occupied by his role at Ineos Sport, albeit he was rumoured to have become more involved in the cycling team recently.
Ellingworth was forced to deny rumours of “turbulence” in the summer following speculation over a buy-out or even a merger with Belgian squad Soudal-Quick Step. There was also a flurry of departures with Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pavel Sivakov, Dani Martinez, and Ben Tulett all signing for rivals. “There are a lot of rumours going around,” Ellingworth told GCN at the time. “What I would say is don’t listen to the rumours.”
Either way, the 51 year-old’s departure – which Telegraph Sport understands has not yet been officially communicated to riders – represents the end of an era. Ellingworth famously set up the British Cycling academy programme back in 2004, overseeing the fledgling careers of riders such as Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and Ed Clancy, all of whom went on to achieve huge success. As a founder member of Team Sky, he helped to oversee a period of unprecedented British dominance in road cycling as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and Thomas took six Tour de France victories in seven years from 2012 onwards.
After Ineos took over in 2019, and the team won the Tour for a seventh time with Colombian Egan Bernal, Ellingworth quit to run the Bahrain-McLaren team. He returned to Ineos in 2021 after McLaren pulled out of cycling.
Ineos have not enjoyed as much success in recent years, with Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates dominant at grand tour level, forcing Ineos to adopt a more opportunistic style of racing with wider objectives. But Ellingworth insisted following this year’s Tour de France that the race remained the team’s overarching goal, and that recruitment was being carried out to that effect. “The way I look at it, we’re in a good place,” he said in the same interview with GCN. “Name me one team in sport who stays at the top the whole time. It doesn’t happen. We haven’t won the Tour in a few years but we’re as ambitious as ever and we’ll keep pushing.
“I see a lot of happy faces here. I see excited staff here who want to develop riders and go on that journey with them. For me that’s the best thing about all this. We did it with Geraint, with Bradley [Wiggins], with [Chris] Froome, and those wins didn’t happen overnight. You invest in the journey, and that’s what I love.”
Whoever comes in will have a talented young squad with which to work. Multiple world and Olympic champion Tom Pidcock, 24, is still on the books; rising star Josh Tarling won the elite time-trial title at this year’s European championships at the age of just 19; Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez, 22, who finished fifth overall at the Tour this summer, recently signed a new contract; as did Thomas at the age of 37. Ineos also signed multiple world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot last year, with the goal of taking the Frenchwoman to mountain bike glory at Paris 2024. Ellingworth said at the time that her arrival was “potentially a step” towards a full women’s team. It remains to be seen whether that ever becomes a reality, but Ellingworth will not be there to oversee it if it does.
Ineos Grenadiers have been approached for comment.