Meet The New Boss

Friday, 22 September 2017

In cycling we’re used to riders losing out by a few seconds, to be defeated often means losing out by a few metres or a handful of seconds after hours or even weeks of racing. But in the world of sports admin Brian Cookson has been ejected from his incumbent role of UCI President by a massive margin. The UCI Congress elected David Lappartient as the new President by 37 votes to 8, a count that shows backing from every UCI confederation. Here’s a look at what lost it for Cookson and why the election doesn’t signal much change.

Taking on the incumbent was not an easy task as Cookson himself knows from 2013. As President Cookson was able to tour the world on the UCI expense account and pose for photos with various power brokers and voting delegates, all in the name of meeting the UCI’s member confederations and federations. It may be part of the day job to meet colleagues but Cookson was sharing a lot more selfies in recent months than two years ago. Yet Lappartient was hardly the outsider, this is not Mr Smith Goes To Aigle given Lappartient has run a federation, presided over the UEC and sat on the UCI’s Management Committee, its board.

What lost it for Cookson?
There’s a line in a James Bond film when 007 is surprised to learn someone wants him dead. “Who would pay a million dollars to have me killed?” he asks only for his boss “M” to reply “Jealous husbands! Outraged chefs! Humiliated tailors! The list is endless!” The same goes for Cookson, albeit without the violence. He had achievements – more of which in a minute – but racked up failures:

  • Entourage. Cookson was British and as remarked here before so were many he appointed to senior positions: Martin Gibbs was nominated as director general, Jeremy Conrad-Pickles took over as chief financial officer, Mark Barfield became technical manager, Justin Abbott appointed as “Strategic Advisor” and when the UCI wanted someone to help advise on an overhaul of equipment regulation in came Dimitri Katsanis who’d been British Cycling’s technical guru. The I in UCI is internationale only Cookson was surrounded Mancunian mates. Insiders saying these picks were often Gibb’s choice rather than Cookson, with Gibbs as the eminence grise.
  • The bungled World Tour reforms were a high profile miss. After a positively pachydermic gestation period the reforms were unveiled… only for Tour de France owner ASO to threaten to register their races outside the World Tour. Cycling’s prime calendar without the Tour de France is like the solar system without the sun and to launch reforms without ASO being onboard was confounding at best
  • Another source of contention was the link up with Chinese group Wanda. It’s behind the Tour of Guanxi and that’s fine but it is also going to build and operate a satellite centre in Asia and has been granted the “urban” world championships for several years. Apparently this annoyed some in Asia with the UCI outsourcing its federal structures to a corporation
  • Motors mattered. This is binary, either a bike has one or it doesn’t. It’s different from anti-doping where theoretically either someone is clean or doped but in practice the bio-passport is Bayesian. Experts assess probability and the determined can try to game the system by microdosing and so on. Whether the benefits are worth the costs is another matter but with motors there’s no probability. Dismantle every bike, X-ray every rim, smash frames to smithereens if you have to – and be seen doing this – because the sport’s reputation is at stake and this has no price. But the UCI’s response was probabilistic, to scan in the hope of detecting likely magnetic fields and by extension to ask us to put faith in the process. Could someone still use a motor and hope to get away with it? Just asking this question is fatal for the sport’s credibility
  • Lappartient didn’t promise radical change, it was safe to vote for him too. He only announced his candidacy having sounded out the small electorate

Cookson built a record to stand too on. His first achievement was not being Pat McQuaid, to come in and stop the UCI’s disastrous ability to act like an mining enterprise that could only dig deeper whenever it fell down a hole and the charred remains of bridges were mended with the likes of WADA. Still it’s hard to separate what he achieved from what was going to happen anyway. Previous Presidents McQuaid and Verbruggen were seen as instrumental in “globalising” the sport but this was during an era when the world globalised anyway, whether trade with China or an era when copies of Harry Potter are translated to sell all around the world. Similarly some of Cookson’s achievements enjoyed a strong tailwind, parity for the number of medals for men and women at the Olympics is good but about time rather than a result achieved against the odds. Still he can pack his bags in Aigle knowing he leaves the UCI a better place than he found it with healthier finances, a more transparent culture, more predictable thanks to more input from legal counsel and none of the bizarre wars with the likes of WADA or taking journalists to court.

Selectorate
There’s a danger in rationalising all of this, to imagine a ledger of debits and credits with the UCI electorate carefully balancing Cookson’s record and Lappartient’s promises, like they’re somehow Justitia incarnate. Logically this doesn’t stack up because they told us Cookson was the answer in 2013 only to switch massively four years later. Instead votes get swayed not just out of frustration with the incumbent but because of promises too. For example Lappartient wants to appoint the World Championships to Africa during his first time and this could have cheered many an African delegate.

The new boss

Same same but different
More links Cookson and Lappartient than separates them. As stated here before this was a contest between a Briton and a Breton; the head of British Cycling versus the head of the French federation. Lappartient wants to ban Tramadol and Cortisone, Cookson probably did too although he was vague on this… although perhaps he was realistic? Either way we’re talking Coke or Pepsi; McDonalds or Burger King. Both importantly were backed during their ascent by Igor Makarov, this blog’s favourite Russian oligarch. Makarov funded the European Cycling Union which has been presided by Lappartient, the Russian also called for Cookson in 2013 and famously hired private detectives to build a dossier against McQuaid. Just as Cookson did things that might have happened anyway we could see Lappartient’s calls that ASO “must do more” for women’s cycling turn into reality. That’s because it makes good business sense and the two-day test that was La Course worked with big audiences and smooth logistics rather than because someone in sports admin wished it. But things like this need to happen especially as Lappartient saw several women’s races fold in France during his time as French President.

So what’s next?
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose as they say in French: the more things change the more things stay the same. Whatever struggles Cookson faced Lappartient must now assume them. The UCI’s weakness is institutional rather than presidential and the Congress could have elected Niccolò Machiavelli, Baruch Spinoza or Dale Carnegie and the UCI would still face the same stiff headwinds. As said here before it’s a mid-sized governing body with an HQ tucked behind a retail park, it is not FIFA or the IOC. Instead think of basketball’s FIBA… when normally the NBA comes to mind as the body that controls the sport. The UCI sets the rules but only governs by consensus, if ASO or RCS says non and no then it has to retreat and it’s backed down when teams have united too. This could be where a skilled operator can make a difference and we’ll see what Lappartient, a career politician, can do.

Many make the equation that Lappartient is French therefore he’s ASO’s stooge. Up to him to demonstrate otherwise. Certainly Christian Prudhomme was delighted he was running. But he’s had his run-ins too, trying to get more money out of ASO to back the French federation (the result: some more, but not much) and his call for the Tour de France to have national teams probably had everyone in ASO’s canteen laughing out loud.

Conclusion
Cookson’s first achievement was not being Pat McQuaid, whatever the Irishman’s achievements there was a backlash to eject him. Cookson unseating the incumbent in an bitterly contested election was set the precedent that would duly see him ejected in Bergen… something Lappartient may well mediate on. The Frenchman doesn’t start from this same position as he’s not a big change candidate, he’s been senior inside the UCI for years, a safe switch. He’s continuity as one male cycling insider from north-western Europe takes over from another at the top of a sports governing body that struggles to govern parts of its sport so don’t expect radical change starting tomorrow. There are some easy wins like highly visible efforts to check for motors and tightening up the Tramadol and cortisone are valid ideas for pro cycling but ought to be done anyway rather than the stance of a visionary.

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J Evans September 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Fair assessment.

If Lappartient is in the pocket of ASO for me that’s still preferable than Cookson being in the pocket of Velon.
Neither are ideal, but the race organisers want to protect their own profits – and that means the races; the teams want to do the same – and that means making things more controlled and predictable, protecting their own positions in the WorldTour.

If he manages to ban Tramadol and Cortisone that’ll make his victory worth it alone.

Cookson had a great opportunity – and of course was an improvement on McQuaid (who wouldn’t be?) – but he talked so much and achieved so little. (I’m talking solely about men’s road racing here – I don’t know about other parts of the sport.) That’s borne out by how overwhelming his loss was.

Hopefully, Lappartient can work with the race organisers or put into force measures that improve rider safety as concerns motorbikes, and put in a process that makes everyone confident that there aren’t motors in bikes (it’s ridiculous that there is any doubt about this).

I also hope he supports traditional races more, rather than chasing money – see some of the new WorldTour races.

He’ll also be wise if he doesn’t shoot his mouth off as Cookson did over Astana, Kreuziger, Wiggins and the Russian Cycling Federation.

CA September 22, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Honestly, if you had reasonable expectations (not expectations based on Cookson’s speeches to get elected), Cookson had a pretty solid track record.

If anything Cookson’s reform failings accomplished a lot by showing everyone how difficult it is to deal with the ASO. Then he managed the situation without massive fireworks, crying, name calling, etc.

Cookson handled himself pretty well, and now it’s time for change. I’m happy with how this went.

Anonymous September 22, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Always found it a bizarre time to change El Presidente in the middle of the Worlds! Well at least the Emperor has new clothes and we can blame a Frog now for the next 4 years at least. Enjoy your retirement Brian, now at least you can get some miles in.

J Evans September 22, 2017 at 3:05 pm

INRNG,
The comments section on this site has been deteriorating for a long time.
You’ve done nothing about it and the results have been there for many to see – and many have complained.
Today, your site finally ‘jumped the shark’.
You not deleting the xenophobic comment above, but deleting the complaint about it – apparently because you think slang words for fornication are more objectionable – shows you in a very poor light.

The Inner Ring September 22, 2017 at 5:02 pm

I can accept a “frog” reference in jest but J Evans your swearing and flood posting of several messages an hour tends to be more annoying.

IMIA September 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Shame on you.

CA September 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Hear hear – Inrng’s comments section is one of the only ones where there is actual engagement between commenters and the blogger. The quality has been improving as the commenters have turned over and grown over the past few months.

J Evans – what are you talking about? No offense, and I will admit, a lot of your posts (like the one to start things off today) are well thought out and rational, but sometimes your posts/comments are the ones that drive people away.

People in glass houses buddy. Inrng maintains pretty solid control while still engaging readers to comment without feeling judged. He gives us leniency and it is appreciated.

Look, this site plus CyclingTips are the best cycling sites out there, my only hope is that Inrng finds a way to keep it going for the foreseeable future. I’m sorry I don’t buy enough socks to sustain it, I wish I could help you find another way to earn additional money from it.

cd September 22, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Have to agree with INRNG. The discourse on this site is what made it so valuable in the early days but J Evans and a few others have been guilty of over-commenting, shouting over others quite frequently.

Anonymous September 22, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Have you counted the number of comments people make? Have a go, on this page (BenW 5, CA 5) or others. You will find the same names over and over posting multiple comments.
I went for Tour de France Stage 14 Preview
SATURDAY, 15 JULY 2017
at random.
RonDe 10
StevhanTI 4
Augie March 3
DAVE 3
Ecky Thump 3
Richard S 3
Johnson Johnson 3
All others, 2 or less.
Try it.

Augie March September 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm

“posting multiple comments…” Yes, it’s almost as if a conversations is going on….

Joe September 22, 2017 at 7:07 pm

I couldn’t disagree more. This the only site that I read the comments as well as the articles. I like the community here.

Evan September 22, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Fully agree with Joe! Also the only site where the comments are worth reading. Great community, inrng does a great job responding to and curating comments. Keep it up!

Anonymous September 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm

As long as you want to read the same people making the same comments, repeating what The Inner Ring has said and abusing anyone who differs from what is the majority view of those repeat commenters. It did not used to be this way.

John Irvine September 22, 2017 at 10:12 pm

This site is great and worthwhile to the extent that comments about other comments/commenters are outnumbered by those about the sport. This will be my last comment about comments. Please join me in this. 🙂

Chris September 23, 2017 at 6:48 am

I raised my eyebrows at the frog slur too, but more moved to scroll down to see what the reaction was rather than complain myself. Not that surprised it’s been left up. Mr. Ring is a bit old school in a few ways (disinterest in women’s cycling comes to mind, but each to their own) and “playful” race jibes fit the pattern.

Anonymous September 23, 2017 at 10:19 am

Do people make demands of your UNPAID hobby Chris? Nah i didn’t think so!

Chris September 23, 2017 at 5:22 pm

There’s no demand in my comment – it’s just descriptive of the site he maintains and can do whatever he likes with.
I’m sure he’ll delete the comment if it crossed a line. He’s deleted at least one of mine in the past. If I recall correctly I was arguing heatedly with J Evans at the time about goodness knows what 🙂
As for my unpaid hobbies; I tend not to put them on the web and specifically invite comment, so there’s that.

Anoldfan September 25, 2017 at 4:43 am

If you don’t like it, don’t comment any more, we will not miss you.

AK September 22, 2017 at 1:44 pm

I read somewhere it wasn’t so much the policy and success or failure in that, but more his (perceived lack of) personal leadership within the UCI that did it in for Cookson. Any ideas on that?

The Inner Ring September 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

That could have been a part too and the line about Gibbs’ power above was something picked up a few times recently.

EckY Thump September 22, 2017 at 2:13 pm

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution,
Take a bow for the new revolution.
Smile and grin at the change all around.
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday.
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again.

Nice one, Inner Ring 🙂

DJW September 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm

and nice one Eck!

Four main weak points for Cookson:
– Failure to follow up correctly on the CIRC report (his one big action)
– Failure to balance major nations in key positions (asking for trouble!)
– Failure to use real specialists in selecting motor detection technology
– Failure to manage motos and safety in the peloton better

And strong points: Mmmm… good intentions

Spofferoonie September 22, 2017 at 2:14 pm

I don’t really have any strong feelings about this either way – as Inner Ring says, it’s hardly a massive change for the UCI.
We probably shouldn’t forget that at least Cookson had the guts to challenge Pat when no-one seemed willing to (even if he didn’t live up to the promise) and we should thank him for that.

James the Red September 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I get the feeling that Cookson was useful to the powerbrokers like Makarov to oust McQuaid and once that was done he had served his purpose so they can get one of their own in. Madiot, Prudhomme and ASO will be ecstatic, anyone involved in women’s cycling and indeed any cycling discipline beyond men’s road racing not so much

pf83 September 22, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Good article. However, I’m still confused by the number of outlet’s insisting that the UCI’s response to motor-doping played a part in his downfall? Considering there has only been one recent confirmed instance in the whole of cycle sport, is this really such a significant worry as to part-justify the sacking of a figurehead?

Graham September 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Cycling journos were spoiled by having the sport in a permanent scandal for so long, now they don’t know what to write if there isn’t a scandal going on so they flog any dead horses they can find.

Chuffy September 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm

One confirmed case and some very dubious ‘reporting’ from French TV seems like a very thin stick to beat Cookson & the UCI with. When the tablets were introduced I distinctly recall that many voices, incuding Greg Lemond, were shouting that only heat cameras would be good enough to catch or prevent motor cheating. Now that those cameras have been used and found precisely naff all, I don’t quite understand why people are so quick to assume that a dodgy ‘documentary’ & an interview with that egregious chancer Varjas is sufficient evidence that the UCI’s testing regime is broken.

BenW September 22, 2017 at 3:49 pm

It’s a tough one though. What that documentary did show – as dubious and self-promoting as Varjas is – is that the UCI have essentially been sold an iPad with reskinned software, and a plastic case with a magnet hot-glued to it. No doubt they’ve paid over the odds for something that doesn’t really do the job it’s supposed to. So if they’re daft enough to do that, who knows?

The Inner Ring September 22, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Agreed on the iPad although it depends how much they paid for this. The problem with the Stade 2 report is that it allows doubt when none should ever exist.

BenW September 22, 2017 at 5:14 pm

That’s exactly it.

As an aside: it’s funny, seeing the case/magnet combo reminded me of the Bomb Detector fraud here in the UK.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29459896

Red Hare September 22, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Why is it so difficult to impound a selected number of bikes immediately after a race, take them apart and ensure that there are no hidden motors? Or even before a race, putting them back together and returning them back to the riders when they sign on?

Am I missing something here? It sounds like a really simple problem to solve.

Tovarishch September 23, 2017 at 10:52 am

Only the team mechanics could be trusted to take a bike apart and put it together correctly. When they tried this the result was a lot of very tired mechanics.

cd September 22, 2017 at 4:03 pm

This has been bothering me too. With their victory over LA fading, the commenters from “the Clinic” need to take their fury somewhere else, or so it seems. Still empowered from the last scandal. Motor doping clearly needs to be monitored, but I think they shouldn’t dedicate infinite resources to what seems in many ways an almost non-existent issue at WT level.

BenW September 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

It’s uncertain as to whether or not it is an issue yet. Personally I don’t think it is, but we don’t know.

The thing is, I asked elsewhere where the commercial hidden motors and things were: in the France2 documentary we only saw things that were really obvious – batteries hidden in plain sight in bidons or saddlebags, motors in gigantic hubs, supposed electromagnetic rims of which we had no proof of operation.

The bottom bracket crownwheel motor system over at dopedbikes turned out to be a “fishing expedition” to catch people out (and that in itself supposedly produced surprising contact from the racing world, though we haven’t seen any naming and shaming)- there was no real product beyond a CGI rendering. Gruber/Vivax are along the same lines and close to being hidden but again, everything I’ve seen from them has an obvious external battery.

GCN have also tested road e-Bikes and even the near-hidden ones are rather loud and would be obvious in a smooth peloton.

So yes, whilst I understand that by definition a hidden motor is exactly that, why haven’t we seen entirely hidden battery systems on the market yet? There must be a demand for the vain or image-conscious amongst us.

gabriele September 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm

From a “free internet tablet” courtesy of Fiumicino airport… a guy was caught using it in an Italian mass event (the story got more complicated later, though). The bicycle you might be looking for (in whatever sense!) is already being marketed and has been for a few years. I don’t know about the pros, but the issues aren’t about technical existence of the appropriate means. Sometimes I even think that the fuss about the pros is mainly marketing for MAMILs. The main question about the pros is the level of complicity needed to make the trick possible, and that’s where the UCI attitude started bein a problem. I really wouldn’t be able to guess if pros actually used motos, but some UCI decisions looked like exactly what you’d have needed to allow the mispractice to go on relatively undisturbed. I agree with inrng and others in that’s more about leaving room for suspicion than actually doing something very wrong on UCI’s part… yet that might be enough or even too much (those emails were pretty much inappropriate, anyway).

gabriele September 24, 2017 at 7:48 pm

That Roman tablet is where I’m writing from, not what they used to catch the guy! I noticed too late the possible misunderstanding 🙂

James the Red September 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

His four year Worlds suggestion is unfathomable:

REGROUP OUR 4 CYCLING OLYMPIC DISCIPLINES FOR A SINGLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EVERY 4 YEARS

So take the events from the Olympics which is every four years and do them again every four years, presumably two years between the Olympic cycle. For a start the Olympics do not include Team Time Trial, many track events like IP and kilo, or, and porbably most startling, MTB downhill. From MTB there is also no 4X or trials riding at the Olympics, and then you dirt-jumping and freeriding, which are more X Games than Olympics.

If you were to say to me lets do a four year festical of cycling with all those events and more I’d be on board. This just sounds like an idea for a manifesto which will be quietly shelved once he does the sums and realises the UCI can’t afford to ditch an annual World Championships.

The Inner Ring September 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm

This reads like a vote winning pledge but as you quickly point out the practicalities of it make it absurd. But what chance once per Olympic cycle of having the all worlds all in the same place over, say, a two week period?

Alessio September 22, 2017 at 11:01 pm

With continental championships being organised in the alternate years – definitely sounds like an electoral pledge.

Bilmo September 23, 2017 at 1:12 am

Interesting set of comments and leads onto my thought – the UCI president covers other cycling disciplines. Did Cooksons performances in other areas stack up and effect the vote? Readers of this blog obvs favour road cycling but are other delegates more track or mtb or even bike dancing type people?

The Inner Ring September 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

It’s still very much led by the road, the structure is typically the head of a local federation where typically the most members come from the road. Eg see the UCI’s new management comittee and the members mostly have a road background: http://uci.ch/pressreleases/david-lappartient-elected-uci-president/

Gateth September 22, 2017 at 2:56 pm

The big plus I take from this is that at least it seems Brian Cookson didn’t use his position to essentially bribe his way to perpetual election in the way of so many sports administrators.

An election kicling out the incumbent with what was compared o the previous election minimum fuss I think is actually a great sign. My main concern is still power vested with people like Makarov begin the scenes.

AnotherDavid September 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Brian “it’s all about me” Cookson. Ironic, in that he really had nothing.

Augie March September 22, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Cyclingnews reporting today that Lappartient will dump the trade team TTT at worlds. Wondering if this be replaced with a national team time trial equivalent or just dropped altogether?

Michael B September 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm

A national TTT would be much better as it’d offer something new, whereas we know from GTs there are only 3 or 4 trade teams who can seriously challenge for the win. Seeing rivals having to work together is part of the fun of the Worlds, and it’d be good to see that in the TTT.

Michael B September 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm

And since the trade teams don’t get to wear the Rainbow jersey, there’s no issue or loss there.

Eskerrik Asko September 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm

And bring back – or not quite back, but you know what I mean – the 4-man team 100 km TTT!
PS I wouldn’t mind if it happened at the cost of ditching the current form of TTT at the Worlds.

Whale Oil Beef Hooked September 22, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Amen to the return of a national 4 up TTT. Brutal.

CA September 22, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Haha, as beastial as a 4-man TTT sounds that’s not a great idea. Right now TTT only works because the top riders (eg. Dumoulin, Froome, Matthews, etc.) want to do it. They do it because the distance is relatively short and they can share the work with 5/6 others, therefore it won’t destroy them for the upcoming ITT and Road Race. In fact, it might fit in with their required fine-tuning of form prior to ITT/road race.

Tell them to do 100k TTT 2-3 days before ITT and you’d see nothing but neo-pros lining up, even if they’re sharing it with 3 others! Would Dumoulin really do 100k effort at full TT pace 3 days before trying to win rainbow jersey? That 2 hour effort would take days to recover from if the riders can’t have EPO/blood transfusions!

Eskerrik Asko September 22, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Just a quick comment since this is quite off-topic:
TTT doesn’t need top riders to work, there is no reason why (a) the top riders should participate in all three events or why (b) TTT should be that much less interesting to watch or less prestigious to win or medal.
Sharing some of that glory all around wouldn’t probably be an entirely bad thing, either.

Augie March September 23, 2017 at 2:23 pm

The real reason for the trade team TTT is probably to give the sponsors something. Great publicity for Giant because they can claim the win, but say what if the winning team was made up of riders on different brands, how could you market that?

Vitus September 23, 2017 at 5:01 am

The TTT died and it was clear that it will be dumped before Lappartient was elected. Only a few WT teams showed up, a third on this Worlds were local teams, team TTT was a no-brainer from the beginning.

Vitus September 23, 2017 at 5:02 am

And of course, I want the real TTT back. National teams , 100km, like we did in the old days.

CA September 22, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Thanks for a very balanced piece. I agree, plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose is the name of the game here. Cookson and his successor both seem like solid managers, and if you think about it, effectively it was necessary for Cookson to be replaced. The entire point the electorate is saying is, we don’t want another Hein or Mcquaid, therefore, you want these men/women to be in for 1 term and then be replaced.

Cycling needs fresh managers at the top of the game who are immediately accountable to the users. You can’t have people getting really comfortable and risking the corruption charges that McQuaid and Hein have had. The culture of doping and corruption and all the drama happened under a UCI that had very entitled-powerful leaders, therefore it is natural that you don’t want the leaders to get very comfortable for the next while.

Good decision everyone, I hope Lappartient continues to force change to move the sport forward in a positive and clean direction. Also, as a father of a daughter, I have seen the light and hope he continues to do as much as reasonably possible to improve women’s cycling. As a fan, I have been very interested by the women’s side of the sport over the past 4-5 years and hope this continues!

BenW September 22, 2017 at 4:28 pm

While you put forward a decent argument, can much get done in 4 years due to inertia and vested interests? Cookson tried his best but was derailed.

CA September 22, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Exactly, it doesn’t make sense to expect Lappartient to completely overhaul the system, the same as it was ridiculous to expect Cookson to overhaul the system.

Continued change and fresh ideas are necessary. UCI has very limited power to overhaul the structure, so it needs a new motivated leader every 4-5 years.

BenW – is it even possible for the UCI to control the sport? Effectively there is zero reason why the actual power in the sport to follow UCI, so UCI can only really help the process, it can never make unilateral changes. And, to be honest, why does anyone want complete overhaul? That never works. The system does need tweaks for sure, and even if you want overhaul, that’s not practical so people should overhaul that idea, haha.

BenW September 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm

That’s a good question – thinking about it, there was a time when it didn’t exist, after all, and people still raced. There’s nothing stopping anyone organising a bike race. Definitely nothing stopping it on their own private land, for instance; and (perhaps) beyond council approval (in some jurisdictions) nothing on local roads either. You could feasibly set any rules you like. Or no rules. Equally, I don’t think there’s much stopping ASO or RCS or Flanders Classics telling the UCI to get lost? The closest parallel I can think of is in Formula 1, the FISA/FOCA wars in the 80s, the days before Bernie/FIA/Formula 1 Group and all of that.

CA September 22, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Exactly, road races are held on roads that UCI has zero jurisdiction over, or at best a very loose jurisdiction if the riders have any hope in the future of being Olympic athletes.

This entire thing is all about cooperation and conversation. IMHO, Cookson lost it when he announced the ProTour reforms on one day, and the ASO announced they were going to be a National Race the next day. Cookson did regroup and re-engage ASO, which did show his superiority to McQuaid, who would have started a dumb war that would have only turned off other stakeholders/sponsors. Cookson was a solid manager of people, now time for the next man.

I wonder what the next steps are, and am looking forward to seeing some more progress.

I’d like to see more commercially viable races at the amateur level, for example. Races in my home region (the province of Ontario in Canada) are generally poorly attended, the “peloton” is often 30-80 riders, and the best athletes in Ontario play hockey, even if they are better suited to be endurance athletes.

Richard S September 22, 2017 at 5:42 pm

I struggle to care less about this kind of thing but a positive in it is that Lappartient is less reliant on minor/none cycling nations for votes (at the moment) and so may be willing to have a more trimmed down Workd Tour with a sensible calendar of genuinely big races. I read somewhere he was in favour of a separate classics/one day classification, which would be good.

CA September 22, 2017 at 6:27 pm

I agree – that standpoint makes sense, and should probably be the ultimate goal.

This should be a very quick announcement, and then BOOM, back to discussion about whatever race is currently on. My major objection to the McQuaids and Heins of the past was that they kept showing up in the media… honestly, the heads of a sporting body should be 99% in the background so that fans can focus on the actual sport we care about.

McQuaid’s drama and battles with ASO, WADA, etc. accomplished nothing more than driving fans/sponsors away from the sport. To grab the casual fans (and casual fans are the ones that will drive TV ratings and therefore advertising dollars), you need the organisers/oversight bodies to do their work in the background to make it a legit sport. McQuaid appearing on TV to announce the biological passport told prospective fans “oh, wait, this sport had a doping problem? It’ll probably never get fixed, let’s go watch a ‘clean’ sport like soccer, they never discuss doping”.

BC September 22, 2017 at 7:59 pm

I don’t really think the change of leader makes the UCI any more effective or less effective. It is a body with very little real power other than implementing rules and regulations.

Outside of regulation, the sport is controlled by ‘money men’ of all shades, and other international bodies ie. WADA.

From my point of view Cookson failed because he failed to get substantive new regulation passed quickly enough, if at all. The continuing problem of ‘moto’s’ illustrates both this point and the ‘money men conflict.

Too little to late from Cookson, But I won’t hold my breath for a more responsive UCI. McQuaid’s defeat and departure was probably the highlight of Cookson’s career, and did indeed mark a positive change in governance.

Arch Stanton September 23, 2017 at 12:38 am

He may talk a good game, but can he deliver? And what will he do for the non Road disciplines? Just like the FiA in motorsport who concentrate too much on F1, the UCI President is similar; there are other disciplines out there. If the UCI ran the sport properly, athletes wouldn’t need to make the move to the road so they can get a decent wage.

AP September 23, 2017 at 7:46 pm

I paid little attention to the campaigning but ‘ le rosbif’ 🙂 Cookson seemed genuinely confident. Whether he was in denial, or genuinely misreading the situation, or whether there was a late and massive swing, who knows (well, I don’t).

Correlation needn’t be causation, but it does seem that ubiquitous social media is working against incumbents in general. Those already in power have what used to be seen as forgivable errors magnified a thousand times over, then spat back out of echo chambers as irredeemable sins. My point is that Lappartient’s victory seems to fit in with the idea that ‘change is in the air’ in everything that’s remotely political right now.

Dave September 23, 2017 at 10:12 pm

A Parc Ferme with scrutineers? You don’t need a tablet, a set of hex wrenches and a torch would have done the job. It’s always amazed me this isn’t done in cycling when they do it in MotorSports with slightly more sophisticated machines: not sure it needs a pro mechanic to pull a seatpost or bottom bracket (and yes I know induction wheels are more sophisticated, but quickly waving an iPad in the general direction of a seat tube is laughable).

Interesting listening to the always informative The Cycling Podcast – after 2 years of being blanked by Cookson whenever they’ve asked for an interview (usually after a controversy), he suddenly approached them via a publicity company last week. Funny, that. Kudos to them for declining as it would have been inappropriate.

Richard S September 22, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Outside of possibly only Belgium I’d say that is the case everywhere. Cycling is a minotity sport even in its European strongholds and the best athletes from here will always end up playing football.

Whale Oil Beef Hooked September 22, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Circular argument – surely by definition the best athletes end up being the best in their chosen sport? Hard to argue that the best potential cyclists end up in football though. Football has greater competitive participation than almost every other sport globally but most people playing accept they won’t make it to pro level they just enjoy it and have support to keep it up. I know 3 individuals in nearly 20 years of working with kids who’ve reached full pro contract status with one reaching UK premiership level. In 40 years of cycling I’ve known one person become pro and he was the least talented of 3 in that cohort! These figures seem representative to me.

Cycling has to stop trying to compete with or ape other sports and focus on what is brilliant about it now. Many more people will be cycling out of necessity within the next two generations so we can get all ready with our ” I was there…” tales.

jh September 22, 2017 at 6:59 pm

I think improvements that occurred during Cookson includes the forward momentum of size and spectacle of the Tour and classics, diversifying the worlds by including the TTT with trade teams, and as much as I dont like to admit it, despite how it appeared, getting the worlds to Qatar last year, which would most likely have been a significant financial windfall for the UCI. How much, and how the resources are utilized is unclear. Almost every women’s race I’ve watched has been outstanding and would be obvious to grow and solidify. I definitely believe a Womens tour run cuncurrently with the Tour should happen and would be VERY worthwhile.
The failures that occurred during Cookson is the continued erosion of sponsorship and the ability for teams to sustain life. for example, the folding of IAM, the “near miss” of Cannondale-Drapac to name a couple.
I still like annual worlds, and think trade team TTT should remain, perhaps it can be “adjusted” somehow to increase participation and even the playing field. It can’t hurt for trade teams to be represented at Worlds and seems worth growing.
I’d like to see the UCI “cozy up to” the IOC to secure more cycling events at the olympics. Specifically Downhill, cross and perhaps cross country mtb stage racing.
Perhaps the UCI and the sport would benefit from an improved PR department, to “craft” it’s messages to the public, to build relationships with media to help grow the sport and continue to pull the sport out of the enormous hole that remains from the past two decades.
I absolutely love all forms of pro-competitive Cycling and hope Lappartient can stabilize and grow the sport

The Inner Ring September 23, 2017 at 10:28 am

A lot of things happened during Cookson’s time but pre-date him. Eg the TTT and the decision to award the games to Doha. Bergen is the first venue picked under Cookson’s tenure although it is not like any UCI President goes out scouting for locations, designing potential courses, it’s more a rubberstamp for the venue.

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