The New Year will provide a new challenge for Simon Cope, after the former women's coach at the British Olympic Cycling Academy accepted a new role with leading US women's road outfit Team Exergy Twenty12. Cope has signed an initial one-year deal with the team, which includes 2008 Olympic Time Trial winner Kristin Armstrong on its books.
Cope spent five-and-a-half years working with British Cycling and in recent seasons, his role had developed to the point where he was also the women's team manager at the Road World Championships. But Cope was eager to stress to Cyclingnews that he wasn't making the Stateside move voluntarily – funding cuts at British Cycling meant that he was made redundant and was forced into looking for a new challenge.
"The decision to leave British Cycling was taken out of my hands as I was made redundant," he said. "'Lack of funding' was what it said on my redundancy correspondence. I was made redundant as the Academy coach as there's really been no proper academy for 12 months or so now. Most of the riders have moved to pro teams and their spaces haven't been filled. For an effective road academy you really need six to eight riders and we were very limited on numbers.
"My role had also evolved into becoming the women's road manager and I was involved at the last three world championships. But this didn't come into consideration when they made their decision."
Cope will now turn his focus and considerable experience to the US women's road racing scene, and in particularly Team Exergy Twenty12. The team has become one of the most powerful and successful in the US and Cope, who spent several years riding in the US as a professional rider in the 1980s and 1990s, is excited by the challenge of making them even stronger.
"I'm going over for the first time in mid-January and I'm very excited," he told Cyclingnews. "I won't be relocating full-time to the US but will be spending a lot of time there. It's a slightly different role to what I've been used to. It's a DS role with some development thrown in there too. I spent five-and-a-half years with British Cycling developing young talent so it was important for me to be able to carry on doing that in some capacity.
"It means that I can take my skills and move them across to this new bunch of riders. I know some of them already from the circuit and from seeing them at various events. Everyone knows Kristen [Armstrong] as she's an Olympic and world champion and it will be great to work with someone of her calibre. I'm not going to be involved directly with the US National Team, but I've got extensive knowledge of the roads and routes on the 2012 Olympic course and will certainly pass that information on to her if she asks me to.
"The next few months will be a big learning curve for me in some ways too. I need to fully immerse myself in the US racing scene. I spent six or seven years there as a rider but that was two decades ago. It's a fresh challenge, so I'll see where it leads. It's an exciting time for me."
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Mark joined the Cyclingnews team in October 2011 and has a strong background in journalism across numerous sports. His interest in cycling dates back to Greg LeMond's victories in the 1989 and 1990 Tours, and he has a self-confessed obsession with the career and life of Fausto Coppi.