Cycling New Zealand has announced that its longest-serving sports scientist/coach will re-link with a double Olympic medallist and former pro rider and scientist to lead the men’s endurance track programme to the Tokyo Olympics.

Craig Palmer, who joined Cycling New Zealand in 2007 as a sports scientist, has had a stint as women’s endurance coach and coached two-time world champion Alison Shanks and double Olympic medallist Hayden Roulston.

He will become the men’s endurance lead coach and will be joined by Roulston, who takes up a contract role as men’s endurance assistant coach for rider development. The coaching group will be complete with the addition of Shem Rodger, a former professional rider, national junior coach and academic in the role of training systems specialist.

Palmer was head sports scientist for the track programme post-Beijing through to the 2012 London Olympics, overseeing training and competition performance, and supervision of innovative software initiatives.

Post London Olympics, Palmer moved back to coaching, taking control of the women’s endurance programme before returning to focus on the role as Cycling New Zealand’s sports scientist.

“In this role, Craig has worked very closely with the men’s endurance coaches and we believe he is best suited to move back in control of the squad’s coaching,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.

“The riders know him well and he knows them probably better than they know themselves in terms of their riding skills and approach. He has already established the protocols and procedures and was working closely in advising our coaches.”

Palmer said he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I am probably a coach by inclination and with my background, I take a scientific approach to my coaching,” Palmer said. “We have this endurance squad developing well with their 3:50 team pursuit early this year and the efforts of Campbell Stewart in the omnium giving a glimpse of their abilities.

“With hard work and clear direction, I believe they have the potential to threaten medals in Tokyo and we will collectively look forward to that challenge.”

Barras said the organisation was thrilled to gain the services of both Roulston and Rodger.

“Hayden did a stint with us as an assistant coach. He has such mana as a rider of course, but the riders and staff alike greatly appreciated his input as a coach. He will be a huge asset and has all the attributes to develop into an outstanding coach especially in helping nurture our younger riders.

“Shem has already had a stint with us as a high performance sports science analyst and as coach of our Subway Hub programme. He has his Masters of Science and he sees his analytical process through the eyes of a former professional rider and coach.”

Barras said the trio are highly skilled, well respected by the riders and have a clear understanding of the detailed planning and delivery required to both Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ in the current high performance environment.

Palmer has already taken up his role, while both Roulston and Rodger will take up their posts in the coming weeks.

Photo: Guy Swarbrick

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