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Cycling Australia has announced that that three-time grand tour stage winner and Olympic gold medallist Brad McGee will take on the role of directeur sportif for the elite men's road program. McGee will have current selector, Austrian-based Brian Stephens alongside him in the role of European co-ordinator. Both roles are effective immediately encompassing the UCI Road World Championships in Florence this September, together with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
"Brad's decorated career as an athlete and more recently his coaching pedigree stamped him as the ideal choice to head up the program" said Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks. "He will be ably assisted by Brian who has worked closely with numerous Australian athletes over the last 20 years and will play an important mentoring role from his European base."
The position has been open since Cycling Australia dismissed Matt White in the wake of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision.
White took up the role with Cycling Australia in January 2011, replacing Neil Stephens who had been in the role for the previous 12 years and had resigned to concentrate on developing the GreenEdge project. White's appointment almost immediately came under review after he was dismissed by Garmin-Cervélo at the Tour Down Under for breaches of the team's medical referral policy having sent Trent Lowe to the former US Postal team physician Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral at the Sports Institute of Valencia in April 2009. Cycling Australia reconfirmed White's appointment saying that White's referral was "nothing more" than "an error of judgement". Later in 2011, White devised a cunning plan for the UCI Road World Championships which delivered Matt Goss to a silver medal after the sprinter's campaign appeared doomed after he suffered a stomach ailment which brought a premature end to his Vuelta a España.
"The selection process was extremely thorough and we are delighted with the appointments, said Fredericks. "Both coaches have signed no doping declarations in accordance with CA policy and are highly committed advocates of clean cycling at the elite level."
Speaking with Cyclingnews last November, McGee who is now based in Australia having resigned from his role as a sports director with Saxo - Tinkoff to become head cycling coach with the New South Wales Institute of Sport, was doubtful over his suitability for the Cycling Australia role due to geographical challenges. Those doubts now appear to have been quashed and he will manage both his national and state roles.
"It's an honour to be invited to take the helm of the Aussie road team," said McGee. "We are still very well-stocked with riders competing on the world stage and the next generation are eager to continue the tradition of punching above our weight results-wise.
"I would also like to acknowledge NSWIS for allowing me to integrate this role into my existing coaching commitments that will continue as planned. My current workload has been carefully considered by CA and I'm confident that the net results will benefit riders in both programs."
Stephens has long guided the Australian under-23 men's program and one his key elements of his new role will be to implement a transition program for young riders going into WorldTour teams, something that was raised late last year by Cycling Australia high performance director Kevin Tabotta when announcing the new Jayco-AIS WorldTour Academy program. Current experienced professionals will be elected to guide the next crop of Australians through their personal development.
"I'm looking forward to working with Brad and the boys," said Stephens. "There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we're certainly approaching the task ahead with much optimism."