Team Sky has recruited Australian triathlon coach Shaun Stephens as performance coach ahead of the 2013 season, which starts in a little over two months’ time with the Santos Tour Down Under.
Since February 2009, the 37-year-old has been head coach and programme manager at the Australian Institute of Sport and Triathlon Australia and was head coach to the country’s triathletes at London 2012, where Erin Densham won bronze in the women’s event.
Stephens, whose background is in sports science and who has been involved with Australia’s triathletes at four Olympic Games, will work alongside Team Sky head of performance Tim Kerrison in his new role.
Kerrion was singled out by Bradley Wiggins earlier this year as having helped turn him into a genuine Grand Tour contender, leading to his Tour de France victory in July.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work as part of the Team Sky programme,” he said.
“I have watched their outstanding performances with interest over the last three years and have been impressed by how they have assembled their team and introduced innovative performance strategies to cycling.
“I’m looking forward to contributing to the team and bringing in new ideas through my sport science and coaching knowledge of triathlon.
“I believe it is Dave Brailsford’s vision of introducing a diversity of skill sets into Team Sky, and ultimately the cycling staff and riders’ embracement of new training and competition strategies, that has given Team Sky a competitive advantage over other teams,” he added.
“I look forward to the challenges of understanding the intricacies of a new sport and assisting Team Sky build upon the enormous success they have already achieved.”
Brailsford, Sky’s team principal, commented: “Shaun’s appointment continues Team Sky’s commitment to assembling the very best coaching and support staff in the world, without being afraid to look beyond the arena of cycling.
“It is incredibly exciting to be bringing fresh expertise into the sport, and further reinforces this team’s desire to break new ground in the field of performance.
“The team has taken tremendous strides since the appointment of Tim Kerrison, who came from swimming, and we hope that with Shaun on board we can maintain our position as the world’s number one cycling team.”
While Stephens’ appointment boosts Team Sky’s capabilities on the performance analysis side of things, there’s no news yet on how they will fill the vacancies created by the recent departure in the wake of the US Postal scandal of three key members of staff, sports directors Sean Yates and Steven de Jongh and race coach Bobby Julich.
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.