His contract may not begun until the turn of the year but Jackson Stewart is already settling into the role as manager of the US’s Women's National Development programme. The former BMC professional has booked the team a spot in the Tour of Qatar and begun plotting Olympic and Worlds success.
“This is the type of role I’ve always wanted to try and I’m excited to be giving it a shot,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve been working behind the scenes a bit for the last month and taking on more and more. I got us registered into Qatar and that was a learning experience because I’d never done it. My contract officially starts on Jan 1 and then I’ll head to Colorado soon after that where I’ll meet with Jim Miller and some of he other coaches. But now I’m just getting a feel for the position.”
Stewart’s first short term goal will be to study the lay of the land within women’s cycling. Coming off the back of two years racing for BMC at the highest level, he admits that his new field is not something he has the strongest of expertise in. But with the help of Miller and advice from several of the riders, he’s hoping to hit the ground running once the season starts.
“Short term I just need to get a feel for the position but it looks like it’s tough to get the girls from the trade teams to race for the program at certain races. Vice versa, there are riders who sometimes can’t make the squad. I’m going to have to balance that and try and find the best compromise for the riders and put their development first.”
“I’ve been learning from people, both some of the superstars and some of the people a little lower down, in order to get a broad spectrum on what needs to be done. There are some hidden riders out there that we need to develop and I’m go to have to find them. It’s going to be fundamental and important to get as much insight from the girls too.”
Stewart will alternate his time between the US and Lucca, Italy, where the team have an established base. The change of pace from racing to being behind a desk or car steering wheel is one that he’s anxious about.
“I’m a little nervous and I want to perform but it’s no different to racing in that you just want to do your best. I don’t really have the world on my shoulders. The great thing about it is that the programme has already established itself and shown excellent results. We’ve got some great riders. Jim will oversee it and make sure we’re on the right track.”
With just a one-year deal Stewart knows that immediate success will go a long way to securing a contract for the long-term future.
“The big aim is of course the Olympics. I have a one-year contract, but the Worlds and Olympics are the highest goals for us. For me I’d like to match or exceed the success we’ve had there.”