Britain’s Jamie Staff has been hired by USA Cycling to spearhead its efforts to win gold on the track. The Ashford-born cyclist, who won a string of world titles in Team GB colours as well as gold in the team sprint at the Beijing Olympics alongside Sir Chris Hoy, will manage USA Cycling’s track programme, which has recently been recycled.
According to USA Cycling, the programme will be run out of Home Deport Centre in Carson California, with Staff, who began his career in BMX, topping the world rankings in 2000 and 2001, “tasked with building a world-class sprint program through athlete recruitment and development.”
Quoted on the USA Cycling website, Staff said: “I am very excited to be given the opportunity to develop USA Cycling’s Track Sprint Program. My immediate goals are to get us in a position to compete in the London Olympics and then go on and win multiple medals in Rio in 2016 and beyond.”
He continued: “We have a world-class velodrome facility in the Home Depot Center, a V.P. with the vision and desire to put American sprint track cycling on the map and now myself with the motivation and experience to help deliver.”
Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, Staff said he was “very excited” about the move, adding “I always intended to go back to the States. My wife's American and my kids were born there."
Regarding his new job, he said: "Long term I would like to see it as a managerial role but initially it's hands on coaching at multiple levels.”
He acknowledged, however, that he was starting from a very different set-up to the one he has left at Team GB. "We've got hardly any athletes,” he explained. “I've got to find those athletes. At the moment I'm predicting one medal in Rio, in six years time, and that's if I can secure any athletes."
Staff is certainly starting from pretty much a clean slate. Taylor Phinney and Sarah Hammer are the only two American track cyclists to have tasted world championship success. However, they both focus on the individual pursuit, which is being dropped from the Olympic programme for London 2012, rather than the sprint events, although Phinney did claim bronze in the Omnium, a new event for London 2012, at the world championships in Denmark earlier this year.
USA Cycling Vice President of Athletics Jim Miller explained the reasons behind the revamp of the track programme, saying: ‘With the increased importance of the sprint events in the new 2012 Olympic program, it is time to rethink, restructure, and reinvest in our track programs.”
He continued: “Over the last year we’ve made some significant progress with our endurance track programs and with the addition of Staff we are beginning what we expect to be a manageable progression to the top of the sport by offering an opportunity to train under the tutelage of a first-rate coach in a world-class facility. We want to not only identify talent, but provide these athletes with tools for success and encourage an increased level of commitment.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.