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LEON, Spain (VN) — Dan Hunt, hot off helping Team GB defend its gold medal in the men’s team pursuit at the London Olympics, has moved behid the wheel as a new sport director at Sky.
Hunt’s arrival comes on the heels of major changes within Tour de France-winning Sky, which saw lead sport director Sean Yates and others exit the team in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal this fall.
Sky imposed a strict anti-doping stance as the fallout of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency case against Armstrong washed up on the British team’s shores.
The team also caught flak in 2012 after hiring ex-Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders in the fall of 2010, a Dutch doctor will links to doping allegations. Sky cut ties with Leinders in October.
In October, the team required riders and staffers to sign a document pledging that they had never doped and would be fired immediately if there was any hint of a scandal.
Former sport director Stephen de Jongh and coach Bobby Julich, both former pros, left the team after admitting they took banned substances during parts of their respective racing careers.
Yates never made a formal doping admission and instead team officials insisted he decided to retire after helping to guide Bradley Wiggins to a history-making Tour victory in July.
Finding replacement staffers has not proven an easy task, but Brailsford insisted that the team move forward with a zero-tolerance stance.
It’s still not clear who will move into the role of the team’s lead sport director.
Shane Sutton, the veteran Aussie coach and director who suffered a nasty bike crash this fall, will work more closely with Wiggins and step back from his day-to-day role within the team. Sutton is not listed amongst the staff on the team’s website.
The team’s remaining directors — Marcus Lungqvist, Servais Knaven, Nicolas Portal and Kurt-Asle Arvesen — are relative newcomers and do not have the depth of experience of someone like Yates.
Hunt, meanwhile, is no stranger to Sky.
He was an assistant director with the team during its inaugural season in 2010 before coaching on the track with British Cycling through the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Hunt admits he won’t have the racing acumen that Yates brought to the table, but says he’s ready for the challenge.
“I want to learn the races and re-learn the job of a sports director,” he said on Sky’s website. “But maybe also bring different things to the table, because I am not an ex-pro. I haven’t ridden these races, so I’ve got a bit of homework to do.”
Hunt also worked in women’s cycling and helped coach Nicole Cooke to the Olympic gold medal in the women’s road race in 2008 in Beijing.
He worked closely with several Sky riders when he slotted into his role with the men’s track endurance program, including Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh.
Hunt, who makes his directorial debut at the Mallorca Challenge in early February in Spain, says he believes that his outsider view of road racing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“I think you have to look outside of your own world. Otherwise the team surrounds itself with people who act, think and believe in similar things,” he said. “We have a really nice mix in the coaching team and together we’ve got all the skills. As long as we keep on operating as a team I think we’ll be fine.”
Another recent backroom addition is the arrival last fall of Australian triathlon coach Shaun Stephens, who will work with Sky’s performance coach Tim Kerrison in 2013.
Those management moves reflect some significant changes in Sky’s lineup, with nine riders from the 2012 no longer in team colors.
The core of the Tour-winning squad remains intact, with Wiggins and Chris Froome remaining as the team’s GC anchors.
Gone are former world champ Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Lars Petter Nordhaugh (Blanco), Davide Appollonio (Ag2r La Mondiale), Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Thomas Lofkvist (IAM Cycling) and Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff). Michael Barry and Jeremy Hunt both retired.
New arrivals include Americans Ian Boswell and Joe Dombrowski, along with Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma), Vasil Kiryienka and David Lopez (both Movistar), Gabriel Rasch (FDJ-BigMat) and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing).