Shane Sutton has stepped down as head coach of Team Sky although the Australian will continue to serve a consultation role as a performance advisor and “troubleshooter.”
While a report in the Telegraph suggested that Sutton would also step back from his coaching role at British Cycling, Team Sky’s statement said that he would dovetail his new position with his job as head coach of the British track programme.
“I’m working in a support role alongside Dave as an advisor and a troubleshooter," Sutton said, according to the Team Sky website. "We’ve worked together for a long time and we’ve got a good working relationship. If there is an issue that the team has identified or an area that needs exploring then Dave will be able to bring me in and we can take a look at it.”
Sutton is particularly close to Bradley Wiggins and was a key member of the Briton’s coaching team in 2012 as he rode to victory at the Tour de France, but it is understood that he will no longer work directly with the riders on a daily basis.
“I’m being led by Dave and whatever he wants and whatever I can do to help the performance team then I’ll deliver that for Team Sky,” Sutton said.
Sutton’s change of position brings the number of departures from Sky’s 2012 management team to four. Bobby Julich and Steven De Jongh resigned from the team’s staff in October after they confessed to doping during their riding careers as part of Sky’s new “zero-tolerance” anti-doping policy, unveiled in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair. Shortly afterwards, Sean Yates announced his retirement, citing health reasons.
Sky also formally parted company with Dr. Geert Leinders at the end of last season. Leinders was previously a team doctor at Rabobank at a time when former manager Theo de Rooy said that the Dutch squad had tolerated doping.
Sky’s announcement of Sutton’s changing role comes on a day when the focus of the cycling media has been turned largely towards events in the United States, where Lance Armstrong’s doping confession was televised on Thursday evening.
Rod Ellingworth, who has served as race coach at Team Sky since its inception in 2010, now takes up the role of performance manager, with responsibility for overseeing the work of the team’s coaches and sports directors.
“It’s a post that involves overseeing the race programmes, training camps and external commitments to ensure we produce the best possible performances on the road,” he said. “At the same time, I’ll still retain the group of riders I coach on a day-to-day basis and I’ll be on the road throughout the season working closely with the rest of the performance team to ensure we give our riders the very best chance of success.”