Two former members of staff with Team Sky, Sean Yates and Bobby Julich, have signed up to work for Oleg Tinkov's Tinkoff-Saxo team, run by Bjarne Riis.
Julich will serve as Tinkoff-Saxo's head coach, while Yates will be one of the team's sport directors, the same roles they performed in 2012 at Sky when that team propelled Bradley Wiggins to victory in the Tour de France.
Yates and Julich left Sky within days of each other at the end of 2012. Julich's departure came after he admitted doping during his career as a racer in the late 1990s, while Yates said he was retiring from cycling for personal and health reasons.
The former Sky pair will be joined at Tinkoff-Saxo by Daniel Healey, in the new position of head of sports science, and sport director Patxi Vila. Vila served an 18-month ban from 2008 after testing positive for testosterone.
The four new appointments will "work towards improving the way Tinkoff-Saxo’s riders train, recover and race," the team said in a statement.
Team manager Bjarne Riis said he was “happy to have Julich, Healey, Yates and Vila in the team. They are incredibly capable professionals and I consider them an asset for any team as they come with tremendous motivation and great experience.
"They will play an important role in our new and ambitious setup going into the next season and this reflects our clear ambition to deliver results in 2015. They all have big theoretical and professional capacity and will be able to lift the level of our coaching and training.”
Julich worked with Riis as race coach for Team Saxo Bank in 2009 and said he was thrilled to renew the partnership.
He said that he intends for the role to involved more than just supervising the riders' training and racing programs. “My intention is to get involved deep in the life of the riders, not just with the training but with the life-skills advice, the tactical advice, recovery and nutrition. In this new system, I would like to be the person that looks after all the details,” said Julich.
Sean Yates said it was “an honor to be asked by Bjarne to join Tinkoff-Saxo." Joining Riis' squad means he will once again work alongside Steven de Jongh, another former Sky sport director. De Jongh left Sky at the end of 2012 after admitting to doping earlier in his career.
Yates said: "It is probably the only team I would work with right now and when the opportunity came along, it was too good to turn down.
“Nevertheless, becoming the world’s best team will not be an easy task. It will require a lot of hard work, a lot of planning and a lot of communication by everybody involved. It’s going to be challenging but I like challenges.”
Daniel Healey joins Tinkoff-Saxo from BMC Racing, where he headed up the team's sport science division.
Tonkiff-Saxo said that he brings to the team "a wealth of experience having built a cycling specific, multidisciplinary skill set that covers exercise physiology, sports nutrition and hands-on coaching of professional road and track cyclists."
Healey said the team has “a world-class roster and all we have to do, the coaches and science staff, is to make each member in that roster a little bit better than what they were before they came to this team.”
He was previously head of a supplement programme at the New Zealand Academy of Sport, but stood down when it was revealed athletes were ordering products with the potential to trigger positive doping tests, and using the program to obtain supplements and vanity products for their partners.
Patxi Vila was previously performance specialist at Specialized Bicycles. His role was to help teams and riders optimize all aspects of racing, from the position of the riders on the bike to the strategies used.
“I like the future goals the team has,” said Vila. “I think it’s good to be demanding with oneself because we are all competitive and we want to win. We have to set ambitious, but feasible, goals and given the background of this team, I’m convinced they are feasible. Such challenges not only put me under pressure, they motivate me.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.