Two weeks after starting his new role as a race coach with Team Sky, Bobby Julich is already settling into his new surroundings. The American moved to the British team after seven years under the wing of Bjarne Riis, as both a rider and then a performance director.
>Now back in the United States, Julich made a speedy visit to the UK last week where he met up with his new team for their first social get-together ahead of the 2011 road season.
"My new position is performance coach and it’s our goal to be a coach-run team within the next two years. Right now there’s myself and Rod Ellingworth and we’re looking forward to having at least two more performance coaches coming on board within the next year or two,” Julich told Cyclingnews.
"Our goal is to take care of the riders so that the directeurs sportif can do what they need to do at the races. It’s a totally new system. It’s going to be a challenge but I’m really excited.”
Sky has divided up the riders between its current coaching staff with Julich handing the responsibility of working with six riders from the younger end of the spectrum.
"The thing I’m most looking forward to is working with the young riders and making the most of every situation that we’re in.”
Although not directly paired with Bradley Wiggins, Julich is looking forward to advising the Englishman whenever needed. Like Wiggins he knows exactly how it feels to be the surprise package at the Tour de France – the American finished third in 1998 – but faltered the following year from pressure and a lack of form.
"That’s why I think I’ll fit perfectly because I have the skills and experience to help all the riders but especially someone like Bradley Wiggins,” he told Cyclingnews.
"I went through much the same situation as him back in 1998.”
According to Julich Wiggins has all the credentials to succeed at the world biggest bike race but that setting realistic goals, especially after his 2010 performance, is key to rediscovering what helped him fly to fourth in 2009.
"You don’t want to set a dream, you want to set a goal,” Julich told Cyclingnews.
"The dream scenario would be winning the Tour or getting top three but a goal has to be attainable. If you set your goals too high where it’s more of a dream than a goal then you can just end up setting yourself up for disappointment.”
"We need to start with getting his confidence back, set a goal for the top ten and of course he was close to the podium two years ago so he can achieve that goal again. However we want him to know that it’s not all about the Tour.”
"Both Dave Brailsford and Sean Yates admitted that Sky made errors during their first season in cycling’s top flight and it’s a sentiment that Julich would agree with.
"We need to get away from the mentality of one rider, one race,” Julich said.
"In the world of cut-throat competitive sports sometimes the fun part is left out and I think that Sky has admitted that they got a little bit ahead of themselves with setting the goals so high and the philosophy of one rider, one race.”
"For a first-year team to make it into the ProTour, then make it into the biggest race in the world with the goal of winning, well that was a pretty steep learning curve. I think they’ll race a lot differently next year.”
Julich will return to Europe in December when Sky hold their first training-based camp in Mallorca, Spain.