Team Sky’s Sunderland steps down for family reasons

Australian Scott Sunderland has left his post as senior sports director with Team Sky for family reasons, Sunderland announced Saturday.

Sunderland left Sky to spend more time with sons Tristan and Saën
Sunderland with sons Tristan and Saën

Scott Sunderland has left his post as senior sports director with Team Sky for family reasons.

Sunderland, a former Australian national champion who worked with the CSC then Saxo Bank teams after retiring, was one of the first sports directors to join up with Team Sky and helped sign many of the British super-squad’s riders.

A year after his son Tristan was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease that requires constant monitoring, Sunderland said it was time to take a break and spend time with his Belgium-based family.

“The wellbeing of our family and in particular the health of our youngest son Tristan asks for me to increase the time and attention I give to my loved ones,” Sunderland said in a statement.

“Our oldest son Saën has wholeheartedly welcomed this initiative. Time has come for him to fully enjoy his teenage years.”

Dave Brailsford, the Team Principal for Team Sky, thanked Sunderland for his contributions to the team.

“He helped us get from the drawing board to being a real road team, working with us from the announcement of the project to our first podium finishes,” Brailsford said. “We all wish Scott the very best, personally and for his future career.”

Sunderland added: “It has been an incredible journey, helping to set up a new, highly professional team from scratch. I’m proud of the team’s achievements so far and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the season, their first Tour de France and a successful future.”

Sunderland, who in his career worked as a loyal domestique for stars like Stephen Rooks, Dimitri Konychev, Robert Millar and Chris Boardman, said it did not mean he was leaving the sport for good.

“The fact that I am taking a step away from my responsibilities as senior sports director for Team Sky does not mean that I will take distance from cycling; this sport has been and will always be an integral part of my life,” he said.

Britain’s Bradley Wiggins will spearhead Team Sky’s bid for glory on the 2010 Tour de France, on which he finished fourth overall last year.