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Sciandri confirms interest in Italian national coach’s job

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Max Sciandri (Motorola) leads TVM's Jesper Skibby at the 1992 Tour of Flanders.

Max Sciandri (Motorola) leads TVM's Jesper Skibby at the 1992 Tour of Flanders. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabio Baldato and Max Sciandri are part of BMC's management.

Fabio Baldato and Max Sciandri are part of BMC's management. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tipped as Italy’s future road coach by Paolo Bettini, BMC sports director Max Sciandri says that he will take up the post should Italy’s cycling federation president, Renato Di Rocco be re-elected on January 12th.

Sciandri would remain working with BMC, who approved the project when Sciandri told them he had received the proposal last autumn, but as he told Cyclingnews on Thursday “I’d spend a lot of my rest time working with the Italian federation.”

“I got a phone call late last summer about it and it pretty much blew me away,” Sciandri said. “When [Franco] Ballerini [former Italian national coach] passed away, my name had already circulated, but I was very happy to hear it happening again.”

“I’d just signed a three-year deal with BMC but I spoke to [BMC team manager] Jim [Ochowicz] about it. It all depends on the elections on January 12th. If Di Rocco wins, and he’s got to win with 55 percent of the vote, the plan is there.”

During a 16-year career, the Anglo-Italian all-rounder won three stages in the Giro and one in the Tour de France as well as one-day Classics as prestigious as the Wincanton Classic, the Giro del Veneto and the Coppa Piacci. He retired in 2004. For three years a former teammate of Lance Armstrong’s in Motorola, Sciandri says he has no comment to make on the American’s downfall.

Sciandri has worked with national federations in the past, training riders at the former British Cycling Academy at the town of Quarrata before switching to BMC. With strong Tuscan roots, next year’s world championships would run close to where he is based in Italy - “the course literally runs through the middle of Quarrata”, Sciandri says - and where he knows the roads like the back of his hand: both factors will play in his favour.

Behind the steering wheel at a hefty percentage of BMC’s victories last year, Sciandri says that “although the bike riders do so much, there’s that little percentage where you do help and make a contribution.”

He is keen to point out there will be no conflict with BMC because “the plan is already laid out there, I know what races I’m going to be doing for them. There are going to be some moments though where instead of rest time if I get the job I’ll be working for the Italian federation, sorting out two training camps, making the long list of riders and so on.”

Sciandri says he can bring the knowledge he gained from working with the young GB riders in Quarrata, too. “I had a fantastic experience with British Cycling, it was a great learning experience, particularly the relationship with the riders and parents. Then I went to a pro team and learned more about directing there.”

“As Di Rocco said to me, sometimes a train goes by just once and you have to jump on it, you don’t want to miss it. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.