Tracey Gaudry is a rising power in governance of international cycling and on Saturday became the first woman ever appointed as a vice president of the sport’s world governing body, the UCI. Gaudry, a former professional rider, unanimously deposed fellow Australian Mike Turtor as president of the Oceana Cycling Confederation in 2012 and served on the UCI Management Committee — the top advisory board to the Switzerland-based UCI.
Led by Gaudry, the Oceana Confederation was an early supporter of Brian Cookson’s successful campaign for the UCI presidency, pledging each of its three votes to the Briton. On Friday, September 27, Cookson won the vote at the UCI Congress after four hours of dramatic back-and-forth between supporters and opponents of incumbent Pat McQuaid.
Cookson interrupted debate over the constitutionality of McQuaid’s nomination to call for the vote, which he won 24-18. Later on Friday, Gaudry spoke with VeloNews about the historic vote, one day before she received her appointment to the executive level of the UCI.
VeloNews: What’s going to happen moving forward?
Tracy Gaudry: What I see now, and it’s quite clear that the Oceana region from early on had formed its opinion, and I kept my statement to the … the federations could make the statements as they were the delegates, and what I see and already feel moving forward here will be a period of greater transparency at every level, greater involvement of the whole Management Committee and the decision making of the UCI, greater engagement with the staff of the UCI in the development of strategy for the future, and therefore a greater level of connection between the strategy and the day-to-day work and the implementation of our work and I think that’s a great thing moving forward, and a transparency to ask the hard questions of ourselves, which I believe, as a Management Committee member, I have been seeking for some time that environment where you can ask of yourselves the hard questions and take responsibility as a team to address the difficult issues in order to realize what is a great future for cycling.
VN: In terms of personnel, do you think we’ll see wash-out or wash-in, a bit of a turnover?
TG: Well, let’s face it: when there has been, in any organization, a steady state for a long period of time and suddenly there is a change in leadership, it is natural that there will be some change. And it won’t be immediate, and I honestly cannot say who or where, but when there is a period of change after such a long period of a consistent way of leading, then individuals will make a personal choice and sometimes the evolution of the organization will help those make their choice, so there’s no prediction, but it’s evolution, that when change occurs, different people come together.
VN: When you look at all the different factors that led to the outcome [on Friday], is there any one thing that really stands out to you, that created this outcome? Were you surprised?
TG: Well, to be honest, in the last three months, particularly since the candidates were finalized, there was never a day where one could predict reliably what they thought up until the moment. But for me, what I believe has contributed in a very significant way to the outcome, is the approach that each candidate took to their candidacy, because at the end of the day, we’re electing a president, we’re electing a person, and all of those other issues were part of the environment, some were louder than others, and some had a greater positive or negative impact, but I looked at the way in which the candidates presented themselves, and I have to say with the least bias possible that the rigor in which Brian undertook to connect with every single continent, every single federation, and every single voting delegate, and I can attest that that was not the case with the other candidate.
VN: And 24-18? Surprised? We had a 21-21 vote [on election-related amendments] hours earlier.
TG: We did, and thankfully what I think is that people were able to separate process with what they wanted as an outcome, and I’m very glad, very, very pleased for the UCI that the decision agenda item 5, which was the decision to postpone, or not, a change in Constitution that could affect the election process, that that vote was taken. It was really important to take that vote, to take a stand that we’re not going to let anything get in the way, and then that the vote was a true vote.
VN: How about that moment when Cookson said, “Enough, let’s just vote.” He had everything to gain by that conversation continuing, in a sense, because it’s possible it would have been voted that McQuaid was not allowed candidacy.
TG: Yes, politics is like that. It becomes very tactical and you’re hedging your bets each way every time, each way you’re counting the odds on each move; it’s a chess game. And to be honest, there were two ways that had there been a vote of Pat’s candidacy, it could have gone no, then Cookson would have put himself up to be voted on by the delegation, which he promised he would do, and only assume the position with a majority vote, or the question of Pat’s candidacy could have been in favor of that, which would have given a symbolic favor toward Pat being in the next vote. So Brian, partly out of frustration — we’ve got to get to the finish line at some point — but partly, someone needs to call it, because it was going to drag on, and there were other things that were happening that it was going to drag on, and he took a very brave move; brave and calculated.
VN: One last question: this is a day that’s been on your radar for a long time. Now that it’s come, when you wake up tomorrow morning, what do you most look forward to, in terms of implementation or being under a new leader? What are you most excited about, in terms of, “Okay, this is the direction I’d like to see things move.”
TG: Well, the thing that I’m most excited about is I’ll be standing alongside, as a lieutenant, to a president who I know is collaborative, whom I know is not afraid to seek advice on difficult questions, and on simple questions even to help make the right decision, and who throughout this process has already had the strength of character to say, “Can you help me make the right answer here?” Without even a consideration of a favor or a fear, it’s, “Can you help me make the right answer?” and he has accepted feedback openly, and I welcome that philosophy inside the Management Committee. And there is one thing that I will appeal to the Management Committee, that that is how we should all be operating, not be afraid to draw upon each other for support to help us make the best decisions. And maybe in four years, see more women on the Management Committee, that would be nice, too.