Shane Sutton has relinquished his post as down from his role as head coach at Team Sky and instead will work with the team as a performance advisor on a part-time basis. He will continue to work as head coach at British Cycling, however, but with some changes to his role.
The news, arriving days before the start of the 2013 WorldTour season with the Santos Tour Down Under, comes as a surprise following a close season that has seen plenty of upheaval on the coaching side at Sky.
The Australian’s change of status was reported today by Telegraph.co.uk, which says it took effect from 8 January.
Sutton, has been a long-standing mentor to Sir Bradley Wiggins, who has described him as a father figure, but he will no longer work with the Tour de France champion nor runner-up Chris Froome, nor indeed any other of the team’s riders, who include his nephew CJ Sutton.
Instead, in his part-time role, he will be a specialist advisor to team principal Sir Dave Brailsford, with the team commenting: “Despite stepping back from a day-to-day role within the team, Sutton’s knowledge and experience will still be influential to Team Sky.”
Sutton, aged 56, commented: “I’m working in a support role alongside Dave as an adviser and a troubleshooter.
“We’ve worked together for a long time and we’ve got a good working relationship. If there is an issue that the team has identified or an area that needs exploring then Dave will be able to bring me in and we can take a look at it.”
According to a spokesman for British Cycling, speaking to Telegraph.co.uk, “Shane’s responsibilities are being fine-tuned in a normal review of operations after an Olympic cycle.”
The decision for Sutton to step back from his role at Sky is reported to have nothing to do with the team’s requirement to have staff reaffirm their commitment to its anti-doping policy.
In October, that led to the departure of race coach Bobby Julich and sports director Steven de Jongh after they admitted having used banned drugs during their riding careers.
Sports director Sean Yates also left, citing health and family reasons.
Nor is it said to have anything to do with the incident in November when he was struck by a car as he rode to work at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
Sutton remained in hospital for several days having suffered injuries including bleeding on the brain – he believes his helmet saved his life – but was back trackside it the Glasgow World Cup shortly after his release.
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.