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Phinney supportive of Sciandri in role with Italian federation

MILAN (VN) — BMC Racing director Max Sciandri looks set to leave the squad, at least on a part-time basis. Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported Wednesday that Sciandri would take over Paolo Bettini’s role as team director for the Italian federation.

Federation president Renato Di Rocco nominated Sciandri last month. The decision is likely to be confirmed on March 20.

Since joining BMC in 2011, American Taylor Phinney has worked closely with Sciandri, basing himself in Sciandri’s Tuscan hometown of Quarrata.

“It’d be a great honor for him, a merited decision,” Phinney told VeloNews while racing the Tour of Qatar earlier this month. “I saw how he works with me, with Mark Cavendish, with other riders. He has results. He’ll be very good as national coach.”

The Anglo-Italian would add his name to a famous list of Squadra Azzurra team directors, which includes Constante Girardengo, Alfredo Binda, Fiorenzo Magni, Mario Ricci, Nino Defilippis, Alfredo Martini, Antonio Fusi, Franco Ballerini, and Bettini.

Bettini took over in 2010, in time for the Geelong world championships in Australia, following Ballerini’s death. His €100,000 ($130,480) annual contract ran through the London Olympics last summer.

Over the winner, Bettini negotiated a new role with Di Rocco to take Italy into a new direction. Adding to new strict anti-doping measures, the Italian federation wants to build a multi-discipline approach based on the velodrome. The idea, following the model developed by Australia and Great Britain, is to develop riders on the track for Olympic and possible road careers. To this end, Bettini attended the world track championships in Belarus last week.

Di Rocco told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Bettini would become the technical manager, overseeing all the disciplines and specifically helping junior development.

Sciandri, 46, raced as a professional until 2004, as an Italian until 1995, and then registered with the British federation until he retired, competing for teams such as Motorola, Française des Jeux, Lampre, and Team CSC. His most notable result was the bronze medal in the 1996 Olympic road race in Atlanta.

Upon retiring, Sciandri helped set up the British Academy base in Quarrata, mentoring some of the current crop of British pros, including Luke Rowe and Andy Fenn. He joined BMC Racing for the 2011 season and recently signed a new three-year deal. He works closely with Tejay van Garderen and Phinney, both who live near him.

“Sciandri comes with experience from the track and road, has an open mind, and is here to help grow our movement and sports directors,” Di Rocco explained. “He has that important mix, he’ll bring along high-level processes and experience, which has produced results.”

Di Rocco said that he looked into Sciandri’s connections with Lance Armstrong, but found nothing to concern him. The two rode together at Motorola for three seasons — 1992, 1993 and 1996.

Sciandri will share the decision making with Bettini. The two have already met, discussing among other things, the upcoming road championships on home soil in Florence.

His contract will run for a month or slightly longer, centered on the worlds every September.

“Can he do both jobs? I don’t know,” Phinney said. “Personally, I hope he can do both. I hope he can continue to work with us because I know that BMC is improving with the years. You saw that last year, we won more races with him as a director than with the other directors. I’m happy for him, even if he had to leave BMC to work for the Italians.”