The 31-year-old Poels will race for Bahrain-Merida from 2020 on a multi-year contract the team announced overnight. There he will find former Ineos team-mate Mikel Landa, who also starts with the team in 2020, Tour de France 2019 Stage winner Dylan Teuns, Matej Mahoric and Australians Rohan Dennis and Heinrich Haussler.
Poels, a veteran of 14 grand tours, has a Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory to boast, and has also won stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of Britain and has also finished as high as sixth at the 2017 Vuelta a España.
At Bahrain-Merida he reunites with former Team Sky coach Rod Ellingworth, who begins his role as Team Principal from October as it integrates a technical partnership with McLaren.
“It’s impossible not to admire what Team Bahrain Merida has achieved in less than three seasons, and I’m very excited about the opportunity that its joint venture with McLaren offers," Poels said. “McLaren brings a fresh perspective to the sport which encompasses equipment, human performance, data analysis and operational excellence.
“Combined with Rod Ellingworth’s expertise, McLaren’s involvement promises to make Bahrain Merida one of the best and most captivating teams in the peloton, and I look forward to playing a key part in its future success.”
Another of the Sky/Ineos alumni to move on is Kristoffer Halvorsen after two years with the UK outfit. The Norwegian sprinter will make EF Education First his new home.
With its Grand Tour focus, Ineos was unlikely to provide real development and racing opportunities for a young talented sprinter like Halvosen, and with EF Education First committing to build a sprint squad around the 23-year-old the move was irresistible.
“From day one, I got a good feeling for EF and their desire to rely on me as a sprinter,” Halvorsen said. “My impression is that the team has a good environment and a culture that will suit me. This feels like the right choice to help me achieve my goals as a cyclist.”
He'll take with him the 2016 under 23 road world championship and 2019 stage wins at the Herald Sun Tour and Tour of Norway.
Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said the goal is to further develop Halvorsen with a view to winning the Milan-San Remo.
“Kristoffer is a great talent, and it’s up to us now to help him realize that talent,” Vaughters said. “Our sports science and sport directors group is motivated to make this guy a champion.
"As an organization, we’re only missing one monument on the trophy mantle, and that’s Milan-Sanremo. Halvorsen is our ticket to getting that last one over the fireplace."