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Britain’s Team Sky announced Wednesday that Saxo Bank’s Bobby Julich is joining the team as a race coach for the 2011 season.
The 38-year-old Julich is the latest in a flood of riders and staff to announce plans to leave Saxo Bank, an exodus that began before the Tour de France, when both Frank and Andy Schleck revealed plans to form their own team, based and financed in their native Luxembourg.
Julich finished out his road career at Saxo Bank in 2008 and joined the team in a management position, focusing on technical development, testing and time trial coaching, as well as the training and development of new young riders.
A solid time trialist in his own right, Julich worked closely with Andy Schleck at Saxo Bank in 2010 on his time-trialing, playing a key role in the Luxembourger’s much-improved performance in the penultimate stage of this year’s Tour de France.
Julich, however, is expected to play an expanded role on Team Sky, according to race coach Rod Ellingworth.
“Bobby is going to work alongside myself and help develop the coaching role at Team Sky,” Elingworth said. “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.
“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 trialing, 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.”
Ellingworth said the coaching role is especially important at Sky.
“In a way we want to try and broaden many people’s views of what coaching actually is,” he said. “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.
“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.”
Julich said he is pleased by the prospect of working at Sky.
“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.”