Brian Smith is perhaps better known as a television commentator with Eurosport, using his career as a professional in the 1990s to read races and explain race tactics in his Scottish accent. Yet in the last 18 months he has also successfully taken on the role of general manager at MTN-Qhubeka, arguably the revelation of the 2015 season.
Doug Ryder owns the team, which will be known as Team Dimension Data in 2016, but Smith oversees the daily running of the squad. He uses his experience as a rider and television commentator to shape the team’s race tactics and strategy, combining his cycling knowledge with skills he learned in sales and marketing to manage his riders and staff.
Smith has worked quietly in the background so far, gradually strengthening the team’s line-up and ethos, but his presence and experience played a key role in the team’s success in 2015. He has worked intensely in recent months, first securing the signing of Mark Cavendish, and then ensuring the Manxman fits in with the team’s other ambitions for 2016 and its goal of promoting African cycling.
“When people ask me what my religion is, I say: ‘I went cycling every Sunday and so cycling is my religion’. If I’m not at a race, I’m commentating or watching it. I don’t drink alcohol or consume caffeine, I get a buzz from bike racing,” Smith tells Cyclingnews in his first major interview about his management role.
“I’m not a sports psychologist but I am a people watcher and can see when people in the team need help. In this team I hope people like me and respect me. I think people do things for me because they like me and share my ambitions. I’ve kicked a few people up the ass, but I treat people the way I want to be treated. When things are wrong, I try to fix them for everyone’s benefit. I think that’s what a good manager does. It’s Doug’s team and he’s trusted me to run as well as I can. I’m happy to work away in the background.”
Working with Cavendish
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