‘I don’t know what the confusion is’ - Ellingworth denies any turbulence at Ineos Grenadiers

Deputy Team Principal defends transfer strategy as several key riders depart in 2024

Clock10:01, Sunday 27th August 2023

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Rod Ellingworth believes Ineos Grenadiers can win the Tour de France in the future

Rod Ellingworth has denied any notion of turbulence at Ineos Grenadiers, waving away what he described as “rumours” and insisting the team are on an even keel.

It has been a strange summer for the British team, whose long-running flirtation with Remco Evenepoel - under contract with Soudal Quick-Step through 2026 - turned to speculation over a buy-out or even a merger with the Belgian squad.

GCN has already reported an unusual turn of events in the transfer market, with deals for Tobias Foss and Carlos Verona suddenly called off, and wrangling over the future of Carlos Rodríguez, who signed a pre-contract to move to Movistar but now looks set to stay.

There has also been a mini-exodus, with Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pavel Sivakov, Dani Martinez, and Ben Tulett all switching to major rivals.

Through all that run questions marks over leadership, as former boss Dave Brailsford, who had moved into broader role across the whole of Ineos’ sporting projects, is said to be back pulling the strings again.

“There are a lot of rumours going around. What I would say is don’t listen to the rumours,” said Ellingworth, speaking to GCN in Barcelona on the opening day of the Vuelta a España.

“I don’t know what the confusion is. I’m just head down doing my job. A lot of people are talking because we’re not announcing things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not working and things aren’t happening. There’s a lot happening.”

Ellingworth confirmed that several key members of the team who are out of contract are staying. Geraint Thomas and Laurens De Plus look to be among them, as does Rodríguez, who is not riding the Vuelta but was in Barcelona in and around the team camp at the weekend.

There was no comment on Foss or Verona, and the Evenepoel question was played with the same bat Brailsford used at the Tour de France: “There’s a hell of a lot of talent out there, but we know that certain riders have contracts.”

As for Brailsford himself, Ellingworth played down the idea that the old boss had returned to rip up the plans and start again.

“With Dave, nothing has changed. He’s been doing that role for a while now and he’s working hard across all areas of Ineos Sport, but part of that is the cycling and he has always remained involved.

“Our relationship certainly hasn’t changed recently. We still communicate all the time, so there’s been no real change in that respect.”

If there was one hint at unease within the team, it was the lost Tour de France dominance. The team won seven yellow jerseys from eight between 2012 and 2019, but have now endured a four-year itch.

In that time, they’ve rebranded as Ineos and touted a more adventurous racing style and wider-reaching objectives, while almost exclusively signing youngsters, but now the Tour de France is explicitly back on the table as the central focus of the team as a whole.

“Our goal is to win the Tour in the future, and we’re recruiting around that strategy. That’s where we’re moving and that’s what it’s all about. And pretty soon it’ll be out there what the recruitment is. Yes, some guys are leaving, some are staying, but everything we’re doing is around the Tour de France strategy,” Ellingworth said.

“The way I look at it, we’re in a good place. 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.”

If you head to our Vuelta a España landing page, you will find everything you need to know ahead of the race, including our race preview, the route, start list and individual stage previews. Check it out for all that and more.

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