In 2008 Matt White will swap his Discovery Channel lycra for a suit and tie as he takes on the role as one of the three sports directors for the American Slipstream squad. Cyclingnews' Paul Verkuylen caught up with White for a coffee and a chat in his home town of Sydney shortly after his return to Australia.
The 33 year-old Australian had planned on continuing with the sport from within the peloton as a rider for one more season before retiring, yet he decided to hang up his wheels a little early to take up a post on one of the peloton's emerging squads. "This time last year retirement hadn't even crossed my mind. Things change through the year and one big thing was I got an offer as a director for Slipstream."
At the time White was midway through a tough Classics campaign that would culminate in a ride at the Giro d'Italia. "Jonathon [Vaughters] gave me a few months to think about it, as I told him I wanted to concentrate on the season right now". What we know now is that White did accept the offer, but it was not without a lot of deliberation. "You only retire once, so what ever decision I had to make, I had to make it for the right reasons."
The progression from rider to directeur sportif or even manager of some of the world's top squads has usually been the domain of the Europeans, as historically sponsorship dollars and backers come from the major European nations, yet with the growing number of English-speaking professionals coupled with the globalisation of the sport, Australians and Americans are being sought after to run an increasing number of professional teams.
White's experience within the professional ranks along with his attitude as a team player were no doubt contributing factors when it came time for Slipstream to consider new directors as the team was expanding it operations for the 2008 season. After beginning his career with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) team back in 1996, White has seen his fair share of employers in countries ranging from Germany, Italy, France and the USA, which have contributed to his intimate knowledge of the professional scene, and this was something invaluable to a squad like Slipstream.
To read the full interview with Matt White, click here.