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by Shane Stokes
November 4, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Former Tinkoff-Saxo pro Nicki Sorensen has made a surprising post-career change of direction, inking a deal to become a directeur sportif with the Cycling Academy Continental team.
The Israeli squad debuted this season and has set a target of riding a Grand Tour in 2018. Its management believes Sorensen’s deal will move it a step closer to that objective. He was a directeur sportif with the Tinkoff-Saxo team this season, clicking into that role after retiring in 2014, but said he had decided on a change in direction.
“I was intrigued by the opportunity to join this team from the moment I got the first call from the team manager Ran Margaliot, who was a teammate of mine in Saxo-Bank pro cycling team. After further conversations with Ran and Mr. Baron [Ron Baron, the team owner] I came to realise that joining Cycling Academy Team will present me with the chance to work with some young and upcoming riders, as well with some experienced ones and the great challenge to take them to another level.”
Sorensen was a pro between in 1999 and 2014, spending 14 of those seasons with the CSC/Saxo Bank/Tinkoff-Saxo setup. His past results include stage wins in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, as well as four editions of the national road race championships, the GP d’Ouverture la Marseillaise and the GP Bruno Beghelli.
In June he admitted doping during his career but received the support of the Tinkoff-Saxo squad.
Baron acknowledged that the signing was a big step for the team.
“We are extremely proud to have a highly professional authority as Nicki to lead the performance management of the team” he stated. “ I see Nicki’s decision to join us as an enormous boost to our ambitious plans to carry this team forward and to become one of the most exciting and inspiring projects in the pro cycling world”.
In recent days Sorensen attended a team camp at Lake Garda in Italy, meeting the riders and staff members and evaluating the setup.
He said that he was keen to “implement ideas that I had for years, ideas that I am convinced can help the riders improve and have fun at the same time.”
Margaliot said that he believed Sorensen was the correct person for the job. “Nicki is an amazing asset for us. There are very few riders in cycling history with an equal experience,” he said.
“With his big heart and high work-ethic, he can lead our riders to the next level, following the successful inaugural year.”
Jan Vallach and Dror Pekatch were the team’s sports directors for the 2015 season but are both moving on.
The 2016 roster will be named in the next few days.
The team had three UCI wins in 2015. Bartosz Warchol took the 1.2-ranked Visegrad 4/GP Polski in May, while Daniel Turek took stages in the Tour of Berlin and the Tour de Azerbaijan in the same month.