Australian Scott Sunderland will join Team Sky, the ambitious new British professional squad, the organisation announced Thursday. Sunderland will assume the role of sports manager of Team Sky under general manager David Brailsford CBE.
Sunderland is a highly regarded director who has spent four seasons with Bjarne Riis at Team CSC/Saxo Bank. He was due to move over to the new Cervélo TestTeam for the 2009 season, but negotiations were mutually ended in October, 2008. At the time, his wife Sabine hinted that Sunderland would move on to "another exciting project".
"Late last season, I was approached by Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton to become Sports Manager for the new Sky Team," Sunderland said. "Shane and Dave invited me to the British Cycling High Performance headquarters in Manchester and told me about their dream of building a British Pro Tour Team and how Sky's sponsorship would make this possible.
"Because of the successes both these men and their staff achieved on the track, I was very proud to become part of this project which will place another ProTour Cycling team on the roads in 2010."
Looking toward the short-term goals of filling the 25-man roster and a full calendar for next year, Sunderland said, "It is Brailsford's forte and winning method to plan everything meticulously and that's exactly what we have been doing over the last few months and will continue to do in the course of 2009.
The task of building a top-caliber team in such a short amount of time might seem daunting, but Sunderland said the team has been getting a "warm welcome everywhere".
"Our first and main objective is to gain an invitation to the biggest races in 2010 and to do this with a credible and skillful team. My task is to make this happen and I am very excited about this."
The team has ambitions to join the ProTour and to put a British rider atop the Tour de France podium in five years - all quite lofty goals. "But," Sunderland said, "not to aim for the highest possible result within one's reach is an insult to the God given talent that person has received.
"I think with the right guidance and support, it is so fulfilling and rewarding for any cyclist to reach the pinnacle of their natural abilities. Besides that, it is good for everyone, that together - and for sure in these economically strenuous times, we want to believe in better!"