Julich part of behind-the-wheel changes at Tinkoff-Saxo

Bobby Julich and Sean Yates are expected to bolster Tinkoff-Saxo's DS lineup. Longtime directors Mauduit and Guidi are out in shakeup

American ex-pro Bobby Julich and Sean Yates look to be heading to Tinkoff-Saxo in a major, behind-the-scenes shakeup at the team for next season.

According to reports in the French daily L’Equipe, the pair will join Tinkoff-Saxo’s sport director staff for the 2015 season. At the same time, Philippe Mauduit and Fabrizio Guidi, two long-time sport directors who’ve been with the team since 2011, are out.

Team officials could not be reached to confirm the news, but it marks a shift in management at one of the sport’s highest-profile teams. And it’s another signal that team owner Oleg Tinkov and team CEO Stefano Feltrin are firmly in charge. The Russian tycoon has steadily been raising his profile since buying out Bjarne Riis last year. Riis remains as team manager, and calls the shots during the races, but these moves reveal that Tinkov is not content to remain an idle, hands-off owner.

Speaking to French newspaper La Nouvelle Republique, Mauduit said he saw the writing on the wall earlier this season that he was not bonding with the outspoken Russian owner.

“Tinkov bought the team in 2013, and I saw very quickly we didn’t share the same ways of working, or the same values, and it was true that our collaboration was difficult,” Mauduit said. “But he is the boss, and he has the money, and he does what he wants with the team, the strategy, and his communication. He’s the one who decides, and I respect that.”

Mauduit worked with French teams before joining Cérvelo in 2009-2010, and then Riis’ Saxo Bank-SunGard outfit in 2011. Guidi finished out his pro racing career with Riis before becoming a sport director, also in 2011.

Julich and Yates, meanwhile, will return to Riis’s side. Yates worked as a sport director at the former CSC team in 2003-04, while Julich finished out his racing career with Riis from 2004 to 2008, when he enjoyed a revival, winning such races as Paris-Nice, Critérium International, and the Eneco Tour, all in 2005. The American then took on a role with the team as rider development manager, which lasted until late 2010.

Yates and Julich both joined Team Sky in 2010, with Yates working as lead director, and Julich as a coach. Both left the team in 2012, however, as part of the team’s controversial zero-tolerance policy, with Yates citing personal problems and Julich admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs early in his pro career.

Yates, 54, has not worked with a top pro team since then, while Julich, 42, worked as a coach for BMC Racing this season.

In their arrival to Tinkoff-Saxo, they will link up with Steven de Jongh, who also left Sky in 2012 after also admitting former doping practices. Since his arrival to Tinkoff-Saxo in 2013, de Jongh eclipsed Mauduit as the team’s lead director, and helped steer Alberto Contador to victory during the 2014 Vuelta a España.

Tinkoff-Saxo has also closed out its roster for 2015, with a total of 30 riders for next season. Six new faces join the team, including Peter and Juraj Sagan, Macej Bodnar, and Ivan Basso (all from Cannondale), as well as Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Robert Kiserlovski (Trek).

The core of the team remains intact, with five departures. Niki Sorensen and Karsten Kroon are both retiring, with Nicolas Roche to Sky, Rory Sutherland to Movistar, and Marko Kump to Slovenian team Adria Mobil.