By Kirsten Robbins in St. Louis, Missouri
Contrary to rumour, Health Net-Maxxis' director Jeff Corbett announced that his team will continue full force into the 2008 season. However, after a seven-year term of directing, Corbett has decided to step down as directeur sportif of the NRC winning team and pass the torch over to current assistant director Mike Tamayo.
Corbett has been a full time director on the road since the days of the 7-UP squad in 2001, and admitted that his decision to step down as directeur sportif has been in the back of his mind for a long time. "I'd call it more of an indefinite hiatus," said Corbett. "It is a personal decision that involves a lifestyle change. I'd like to see what else is out there, experience some different things and have some time off of the road."
After creating a smooth running men's professional cycling team and making it his life's work, Corbett has had the opportunity to watch the transition of riders such as Dave Zabriski, Greg Henderson and Jason McCartney as they progressed through his program and into the ProTour ranks, and he noted that he did not want to walk away from the program until he found a suitable successor.
Corbett feels that Tamayo, the team's current assistant director, has suitable qualities that will allow the team to continue at its current level. "I feel he could step in now without being a complete stranger to the guys," said Corbett. "The guys know him and trust him and have gotten to spend a lot of quality time with him, and he has proven that he is capable while working beside me as well as on his own. Mike's been doing this for one year as an assistant an already his resume is better than some guys that have been doing this for years. He is ready and we are lucky to have him."
Though Corbett has not confirmed what he will be doing next year he made it clear that he will still remain involved with the team at some level. "My leaving has nothing to do with this program and I'm not looking for a job with another program. I'll still be a part of the Health Net program to some extent next year by doing some work in the form of some assistant directing, some logistical and sponsorship stuff, but it will not be my full time gig anymore."
Tamayo is no stranger to directing teams, despite this being his first year working in that capacity in the men's peloton. He directed the highly successful Victory Brewing women's cycling team for several seasons.
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