By Duncan Mackay

Shane Sutton head and shouldersJanuary 18 - Shane Sutton, the head coach of Britain's cycling team, has stepped aside from his role at Team Sky to take on a consultancy role alongside his GB commitments.

Sutton's shift means he will now operate in "a support role alongside team principal Dave [Brailsford] as an adviser and a troubleshooter", Team Sky said. 

"We've worked together for a long time and we've got a good working relationship," said the Australian-born Sutton.

"If there is an issue that the team has identified or an area that needs exploring then Dave will be able to bring me in and we can take a look at it."

A Team Sky statement said: "Despite stepping back from a day-to-day role within the team, Sutton's knowledge and experience will still be influential to Team Sky as they look to defend their status as number one team in the world."

But the Australian, who is based in Cardiff, will now have no direct link with the Team Sky cyclists.

Sutton, 56, has been an energising force behind establishing the elite cycling unit of British Cycling over the past 10 years and is particularly close to Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

Bradley Wiggins with Shane SuttonShane Sutton has played a leading role in the career of Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins

He will remain head coach at British Cycling but his responsibilities will be revised.

Sutton will retain the title of British Cycling head coach for track World Cups and major events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

Sutton is the latest leading official to leave Team Sky, although there is no suggestion that his is linked to their zero tolerance stance on drugs.

In October, trace coach Bobby Julich and sports director Steven de Jongh after they admitted having used banned drugs during their riding careers.

Sports director Sean Yates, a former mentor of Lance Armstrong, also left, citing health and family reasons.

Team Sky have also denied that Sutton's decision is linked to the incident last November when he was struck by a car as he rode to work at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.

Sutton remained in hospital for several days having suffered injuries including bleeding on the brain.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]