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Cycling | International

Sky sign Aussie coach Stephens



Team Sky have appointed Australian Shaun Stephens as performance coach for the 2013 season, the British-based outfit announced on Wednesday.

Stephens was head coach of the Australian triathlon team at London 2012 where a British track cycling squad, under the guidance of Sky boss Dave Brailsford, won a slew of Olympic gold medals.

The 37-year-old Stephens will leave his current roles as head coach and programme manager at the Australian Institute of Sport and Triathlon Australia to work fulltime alongside Team Sky's head of performance Tim Kerrison.

Sky had a brilliant 2012, with two of their riders, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome finishing first and second respectively in the Tour de France, with Wiggins's victory seeing him become the first British winner of road cycling's most famous race.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work as part of the Team Sky programme," Stephens said.

"I have watched their outstanding performances with interest over the last three years and have been impressed by how they have assembled their team and introduced innovative performance strategies to cycling.

"I'm looking forward to contributing to the team and bringing in new ideas through my sport science and coaching knowledge of triathlon.

"I believe it is Dave Brailsford's vision of introducing a diversity of skill sets... that has given Team Sky a competitive advantage over other teams.

"I look forward to the challenges of understanding the intricacies of a new sport and assisting Team Sky build upon the enormous success they have already achieved."

Meanwhile Sky principal Brailsford, never one for resting on his laurels, said: "Shaun's appointment continues Team Sky's commitment to assembling the very best coaching and support staff in the world, without being afraid to look beyond the arena of cycling.

"It is incredibly exciting to be bringing fresh expertise into the sport, and further reinforces this team's desire to break new ground in the field of performance.

"The team has taken tremendous strides since the appointment of Tim Kerrison, who came from swimming, and we hope that with Shaun on board we can maintain our position as the world's No 1 cycling team."

Stephens' appointment came following three recent departures from Team Sky after Brailsford re-emphasised the squad's zero-tolerance approach to doping following the Lance Armstrong scandal.

American Bobby Julich left Sky after revealing he took blood-booster EPO in his racing career and Steven de Jongh left his role as a sporting director after admitting to taking performance-enhancing drugs while a rider.

Sean Yates announced his retirement from professional cycling, leaving his role as senior sports director, but refuting reports his departure was forced.



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