Bobby Julich, once tipped as a potential winner of the Tour de France, is to join Britain’s Team Sky as race coach, it has been announced.
The 38-year-old Texan joins from Team Saxo Bank, where he had moved into a management position after his racing career ended in 2008, his role including time trial coaching – he won bronze in the discipline in the 2004 Olympics – plus developing young riders.
Julich had joined Bjarne Riis’s outfit, then called Team CSC, in 2005, which turned out to be his most successful season as a pro, with overall victories in Paris-Nice, the Critérium International and the Eneco Tour.
A former colleague of Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie at the Motorola team, Julich also rode for Cofidis and Team Telekom during his career. His best performance in the Tour de France came in 1998 - the year of the Festina scandal - when he finished third overall behind Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich.
Team Sky race coach Rod Ellingworth explained what Julich’s specific role would be at Team Sky, saying: “Bobby is going to work alongside myself and help develop the coaching role at Team Sky. We have a long-term view and a coaching structure that we are aiming to work towards.
"Bobby is the first new person to be taken on with that in mind. The role is very much to be a one-on-one coach with a few of our key riders,” he continued.
"Race coaching is everything to do with the athletes' lives. It involves so much; planning, supporting the riders whenever they need it - whether it's time trialling, positional and tactical work - basically whatever is needed to help them in every area. It could even be getting them back on track after an illness," added Elingworth.
"In a way we want to try and broaden many people's views of what coaching actually is,” he went on. “We are available as a coaching team 24/7 to these bike riders; you have to live the life with them a little bit. It's a big role, a real key one. You are the day-to-day contact for that bike rider - so if they need anything they come through the coach first and then the coach delves into all the support staff around them to make sure it happens rather than the athlete having to go and speak to 10 or 15 different people.
"In terms of the performance structure you've got the bike riders on top, then the coaches and then a whole array of departments - logistics, operations, sport science and so on.
"There's a line of communication and we really want to work on that area and Bobby will be part of that. That's my idea in terms of the coaching planning and Bobby is the first one to come in to help me deliver it.
"Bobby hasn't ever worked in this style before so that's going to be his challenge but he's completely up for that and is really looking forward to it. He's come here and had a good look around and can see that it works.
"We obviously also want to make sure that he has his input. He's got some great experience - and we want to learn from that - so he'll be a good member of the team," Elingworth concluded.
Julich himself is looking forward to his new challenge, saying: "I am extremely excited to be joining Team Sky. I have been in the same system for seven years and look forward to learning a new one and meeting new people.
"I think I will fit in perfectly with this team and hope that my experience will help this team progress and reach its goals for the future."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.