Gabriel Rasch will retire from racing and become a directeur sportif at Team Sky following the 2014 classics. The 37-year-old’s new role had been rumoured in the Norwegian press in recent weeks, and was confirmed in a statement by Team Sky on Thursday.
"I'd always hoped to become a Sports Director once my riding days had come to a close and this is a big chance for me to do what I'd love to do with a team that I love,” said Rasch.
Although Rasch won the Norwegian road race title in 2003, he was a relative latecomer to the upper echelons of the sport, making the step up to ProTour level at the age of 32 with the Crédit Agricole team of fellow countryman Thor Hushovd in 2008.
Rasch joined Hushovd at Cervélo TestTeam and Garmin-Cervélo in the years that followed, before parting company to sign for FDJ in 2012. At the end of last season, he was linked with a move to IAM Cycling, but ultimately opted to sign for Team Sky.
Rasch was part of Sky’s classics squad in 2013, where he rode alongside Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas, and he hopes to tread the cobbles for one final time next spring before swapping the bike for the directeur’s car.
“No one ever wants to stop riding but this is the right time and the right opportunity to pass on some of my experience,” said Rasch. "I'm not hanging up the bike just yet; I plan to fight for my place up until Paris-Roubaix and after that I will become a full-time DS for the team. I can't wait to get started."
Sky performance manager Rod Ellingworth maintains that the swiftness of Rasch’s change from rider to directeur sportif will aid his transition between the two roles.
“Gabba will join the DS team fresh from the bike which will make all the difference and will help him settle in quickly,” he said. “This is an opportunity for him to pass on the huge amount of racing knowledge that he has accumulated over the years and pass it on to the younger riders.”
Sky had lost a number of members of its management staff ahead of the 2013 season. Bobby Julich and Steven De Jongh resigned as part of the team’s “zero tolerance” doping policy, while Sean Yates also left his position at the same time and Shane Sutton’s role subsequently changed from head coach to part-time consultant.