The changes in key support roles within the Australian Cycling Team continue, with AusCycling on Monday announcing that Gene Bates, who has worked as a sports director at BIkeExchange-Jayco for nearly a decade, and sports scientist Scott Gardner have been drawn back to the national cycling organisation to divy up head coach duties.
Gardner – who has worked with athletes including Anna Meares, Shane Kelly, Sam Willoughby, Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Victoria Pendleton – will take the title of Head Coach of Acceleration and Action, which covers BMX, BMX Freestyle and Track Sprint. Bates is set to become Head Coach of Endurance, which encompasses road, mountain bike and track endurance.
“For a long time, I have thought about returning to work with Australian athletes and looking at the current state and future of cycling as a whole in Australia, we can only be motivated by the potential,” said Bates. “We have a new era of cycling arriving, and I am very excited to be a part of that."
There has been ample, and at times controversial, change within the organisation over recent years. Simon Jones – who was appointed the head of performance after the Rio Olympic Games with the remit of turning a decline in medals around – not only delivered change soon after his 2017 arrival but also implemented a restructure in 2020, with seven staff removed.
Jones also left after the Tokyo Olympics, where the cycling medal tally only improved because Logan Martin won gold in the newly introduced discipline of BMX Freestyle. Jones was replaced earlier this year with Jesse Korf, who was appointed to the role of Executive General Manager - Performance. Korf had been filling the role of Performance Director on Jones' departure, coming from the role of Director of Performance Pathways at AusCycling.
The track endurance coach position was also left vacant when Tim Decker announced his plans to leave at the start of this year, after 11 years, to take up an equivalent position in China.
The latest round of appointments didn’t stop at Bates and Gardner. Donna Rae-Szalinski, who has extensive experience in state institutes as well as national and professional cycling teams, has been appointed as Director of Pathways, taking up the role she was filling on an interim basis. The position includes overseeing domestic and international opportunities for under-19 and under-23 riders to compete, in a period where the opportunities are re-emerging after considerable impediments to both international and domestic travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The role also includes talent identification and development of athletes and coaches.
Paul Collins, who has been an associate professor in design and product development at Deakin University, will be stepping into a new role at the organisation – Director of Engineering Excellence. AusCycling said he will lead a new functional area which holds equipment and data-facing activities and roles.
The position was created after a handlebar snapped off at its attachment point at the Tokyo Olympic Games, causing Australian Team Pursuit rider Alex Porter to come crashing down onto the track. An investigation followed and the report concluded the prime reason for the failure was an inadequate specification and it recommended that qualified and experienced people be employed in the area.
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.