Further details have emerged over the sacking of Heiko Salzwedel, who was dismissed from his coaching role on Wednesday by British Cycling. According to one source, the German was called into a meeting with head coach Iain Dyer and performance director Stephen Park. Within 30 minutes, he had been told to clear his desk before Dyer escorted him from the British Cycling's offices in Manchester. Salzwedel was told that several riders had voiced concerns over his leadership but one source has told Cyclingnews that the German was removed from his job partly because of his links to Shane Sutton and Bradley Wiggins.
The Daily Mail broke the news on Thursday, claiming that there had been a 'rider revolt' against Salzwedel. The German would not comment when approached by Cyclingnews on Friday morning but confirmed that he is now back in Berlin with his family while he and British Cycling agree to the terms of his severance.
One source with knowledge of the meeting told Cyclingnews that Dyer approached Salzwedel earlier in the week, asking if the German could meet with him on Wednesday.
"Heiko arrived for work as normal at 9am and asked if Dyer was available shortly after arriving. Dyer refused to meet immediately, instead asking that they convene just before 1pm with performance director Stephen Park," the source said.
"At the meeting Heiko was asked to review the team heading into the European Championships [October 18-22]. He gave them an analysis of his riders' health. He was then told that a 'couple off issues had come up and several riders were unhappy.'"
This apparently caught Salzwedel off guard. He held quarterly reviews with all of his athletes on the endurance programme and had asked them individually if they had any concerns. None were apparently put forward.
"His departure wasn't totally unexpected," the source added. "From the beginning, since the overhaul at British Cycling, something didn't feel right between Heiko and the rest of the senior management team like 'Sparky,' as he [Park - ed.] would like us to call him. He never had conversations with Heiko and never really asked his opinion. I think Heiko found it quite confusing.
"Of course a couple of riders weren't entirely happy but I think they were encouraged to go against Heiko in the end. There were a few, some of whom were left out after the Olympics, who wanted to blame someone else other than themselves."
Once he had been given his marching orders, Salzwedel was asked to leave Park's office, clear his desk, and then leave the premises. To onlookers within the British Cycling offices it looked as though the German coach was being publicly disgraced, although no security staff were involved, as was previously reported.
"They asked him to clear his desk, take everything with him and he was escorted out. He was told plainly that he couldn't come back. The whole thing took less than 30 minutes. It looked humiliating."
When contacted by Cyclingnews, a spokesperson refused to discuss the claims or Salzwedel's dismissal, only stating that the German was "still on the payroll."
Salzwedel was brought to British Cycling by Shane Sutton in 2014 and led the men's endurance team to gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The German was credited with persuading Bradley Wiggins back to the track and helped in the rider's UCI Hour Record challenge in 2015. According to the source Salzwedel may have paid for his association to both Sutton and Wiggins. The Australian left British Cycling in 2016 after claims were made against him involving sexism, while Wiggins is still the centre of an ongoing UKAD investigation.
"That certainly played a role," the source said. "They wanted a new beginning and I think people could see that. I just don't think Heiko expected it in such a drastic way. It was like a bullet to the head."
Another source with close ties to the structure and staff within British Cycling, but who did not want to be named, sympathised with Salzwedel's position but also predicted that further changes could be made at senior level within the organisation and specifically named Rod Ellingworth. The Team Sky employee works on a contractual basis for British Cycling around the World Championships and rumours have been circulating for some time that he will no longer take up a role at the organisation.
"They demanded a medal, and you want a medal you go to a medal man. He did the job," the source said regarding Salzwedel, before adding, "I've heard that he's [ed. Ellingworth] going. He's part of the road set-up but I've heard that he's the next on the list."
Ellingworth could not be reached for comment.
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