Dario Cioni will serve as a directeur sportif for Team Sky in 2014, his fourth different role at the British team. Cioni was a rider on Sky’s original roster in 2010 before retiring at the end of 2011 to become a business manager, with particular responsibility for the team’s Italian sponsors. He has combined that position with a role as an on-race press officer over the past two seasons.
Although Team Sky issued no formal press communiqué to announce Cioni’s appointment as a directeur sportif, his profile on the team website has been updated to reflect his new status.
“I love being part of this team, especially given the huge progress we’ve made in the last four years both on and off the bike. It is nice to have been able to contribute to that in various different areas,” Cioni said, according to teamsky.com.
“I’m really excited to work as a Sports Director as well this year because it means I can combine the tactical experience I learned as a rider with the organisational skills needed to ensure everything runs smoothly off the bike as well.”
Cioni had already played a significant role in Sky's preparations for last year's Giro d'Italia, when he was charged with scouting the team time trial course in Ischia and he also accompanied coach Tim Kerrison in supervising Bradley Wiggins's reconnaissance in the Dolomites.
Cioni is the second new directeur sportif appointed by Sky this winter, following the arrival of Dan Frost from Saxo-Tinkoff during the off-season. Frost’s arrival and Cioni’s elevation will help to offset the departures of Dan Hunt, who has taken up a role in football as head of elite performance with the English Premier League, and Marcus Ljungqvist, who stepped down at the end of the season.
Sky’s management team had already undergone a significant overhaul last winter, when Sean Yates retired and Shane Sutton switched from Sky’s head coach to a consultancy role, while Bobby Julich and Steven de Jongh left the team as part of its zero tolerance policy after confessing to doping during their racing careers.
Born in Reading, the Italian Cioni began his professional career as a mountain bike rider before making the switch to the road with Mapei in 2000. Cioni’s stand-out performance during a career that included stints at Fassa Bortolo, Liquigas, Lotto and ISD was his fourth place finish at the 2004 Giro d’Italia.
That same year, Cioni also finished third at the Tour de Suisse, but was subsequently excluded from the Italian team for the world championships in Verona after recording a haematocrit in excess of 50% before the race. After further tests, the UCI certified that Cioni’s haematocrit was naturally above the 50% threshold.
A holder of a degree in business studies with a specialization in sports management, Cioni served as rider representative on the UCI ProTour committee and was also part of the UCI’s inaugural athletes’ commission, which was established in 2011.