The world from Pat’s chair part III

  • By Mark Johnson
  • Published Feb. 8, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 30, 2014 at 9:51 AM EDT

Editor’s note: This piece is the final installment of a three-part series. Before reading this, be sure to check out Part I and Part II

Excerpt from Part II:

As riders in their mid-30s retire, McQuaid feels “there’s less and less pressure on the younger ones to dope.” That said, he is realistic that as age starts to affect today’s younger riders‘ ability to perform, they will again face temptation. “The ones who are 22, 23 and 24, when they get to 30 and 31, as they are maybe over the top of their career, they may once again be faced with choices in order to try to extend their career a year or two.”

So while he is optimistic that the generation born in the late 1980 and early 1990s—the Taylor Phinneys, Andrew Talanskys and Tejay van Garderens—are growing up in a culture where doping is not a de facto part of their job description, he is realistic that later in their career they may have to make decisions about shortcuts. “It’s not just a question of when they come into the sport first; its also when they first get to be a Grand Tour contender, and then when they are in their later years. You have to make that choice several times, at several stages of your career.”

Asked to assess his greatest successes over his tenure as UCI president so far, McQuaid says “the most important one for me is changing the culture of doping. We are not there yet. It’s still going to take a couple more years. But we are on the right road and we are on the right path and we are going in the right direction.”

When it comes to his shortcomings, McQuaid reflects, somewhat allusively, that he is unhappy with “some things I see happening on a daily basis, which indicates to me that there are still people who don’t think exactly the same way as I do in relation to sport and fair play.” He also says work remains to be done to further globalize the sport. “I think in the next two or three years it will snowball a little bit and grow fairly rapidly.” Expansion of cycling into countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China is a signature McQuaid goal and he says that only when pro racing is established in these growing economies will he be able to look back with satisfaction.

Other disappointments include the battles the UCI waged with the Grand Tours that took place beginning in 2005. He explains these struggles as “basically a clash of philosophies. The UCI had a philosophy of globalization and developing the sport around the world and the Grand Tours had a philosophy which was purely pan-European, so to speak.” He says the UCI also wanted to “give some stability and guarantees to the teams” that they would be included in the Grand Tours, “but the Grand Tours didn’t want to do that.” He recalls this time as “four very hard years which were very damaging to the sport.”

Today, he says, “we are in the process of rebuilding a relationship which had broken completely.” The Grand Tours in France, Italy and Spain “realize that the sport is growing rapidly around the world and that there are actually opportunities for them as well as highly-respected organizers to work in that environment.” Indeed, Tour de France organizer ASO now assists with the organization of events including the Amgen Tour of California and the Santos Tour Down Under. He concludes that the Grand Tours “are prepared to work with us and we are prepared to work with them on the future development of the sport and we have a very good working relationship and that’s something we will continue.”

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Writer-photographer Mark Johnson's work has been published in titles including VeloNews in the United States, Cycling Weekly in the UK, Vélo in France, and Ride Cycling Review in Australia as well as general-interest publications including The Wall Street Journal and the San Diego Union-Tribune. His book on the Garmin pro team, Argyle Armada, was published by VeloPress in 2012. A Cat. 2 road cyclist, Mark has bicycled across the United States twice and completed an Ironman triathlon. He graduated from UC San Diego and has a Ph.D. in English literature from Boston University. His other passion is surfing, which he does frequently from his home in Del Mar, California. Follow him on Twitter @ironstringmark.

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