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Interview: UCI President Mr. Pat McQuaid
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 1/3/2012
Interview: UCI President Mr. Pat McQuaid
 

Interview: UCI President Mr. Pat McQuaid
Pat McQuaid clarifies his comments on a Women's minimum wage and continuing growth of Women's racing - The continuing growth, globalization and marketing of the sport on the world stage...

Pat McQuaid's roots in cycling run deep growing up in a cycling family in Ireland; his father Jim and uncle Paddy were top rated  cyclists. Thje Along with his brothers Darach, Kieron and Paul Oliver and Darach as well as his cousin John McQuaid represented Ireland in world road championships. The family is entrenched in bike racing business as race organizers, bike shop owners and run tours guiding tourists around the Emerald Isle.

Pat started as many of us do racing as a junior and later as an elite rider where he distinguished himself at an early age as Irish national road champion in 1974 at 25 years of age; and won the Tour of Ireland twice (1975, 1976), as an amateur while studying in University and working as a teacher. He turned pro with British squad Viking-Campagnolo Cycles  (1978 & 79) during which he won the tough Tour of the Pennines.

After his pro career he went on to organize races (Tour of Langkawi and Tour of Ireland) and become president of the Irish cycling federation and then the UCI’s road commission for eight years.

One could say McQuaid was uniquely qualified by his experience for his next post in cycling when he was elected President of the UCI  in 2005.  McQuaid has worked and experienced  the sport from an amateur to pro racer, a race organizer of local and International events, in business and almost every dynamic that makes a race possible. To have done so over a career of over 35 years is a testament that he has been driven by a passion for the sport that we all share.

6 years on, and Pat McQuaid has led the sport through some tough times most recently working on his two main goals to expand pro cycling internationally and continue the fight for a drug free peloton.  His time at the reins of the UCI haven't been without controversy as in his recent comments at the Worlds in Copenhagen about minimum wages for the pro women teams....

Vaughn Trevi: A month or so ago you commented on the possibility of minimum wages for  women's teams  that the sport hadn't developed to that level yet. Later pro's Vos, Teutenberg and Bronzini took offense and supported the idea. The UCI licenses pro women's teams, conduct a Women's World Cup, and licenses Women's pro tours and other races.

 Mr. McQuaid, Can you explain why Women's cycling isn't it developed enough to pay a minimum wage? What more has to be accomplished for women's pro teams to pay minimum wages?

What is the the UCI willing to do or can do, to help bring that about the needed development to Justify or qualify for a minimum wage? Gerard Vroomen hosted a lively debate on his blog regarding what might be done for the women.

Among the suggestions were:
Some have suggested requiring all WorldTour teams to have a womens team, is this a practical solution?
Others have suggested that all of the WorldTour races be required to have a women's race; likewise does this seem to you a viable solution?  Do you see either of these mandates as a practical solution for the raising the level of women's pro sport to qualify for a minimum wage?

podium
UCI president Pat McQuaid in a conversation with former UCI president Hein Verbruggen at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships . Photo © 2011 Bart Hazen

Mr. Pat McQuaid: First of all, let me say that my remark made in Copenhagen regarding the development of women's cycling has consistently been taken out of context by some media and cyclists. The UCI, and myself as President, are the first to recognise the quality and ever-increasing level of women’s cycling throughout the world. Unfortunately, it has not yet attracted the same level of sponsorship and financial backing as men’s cycling, and it is regarding this that my remarks about the development of women’s cycling were made.

Obviously, we would dearly like to see this situation change, but we must remain realistic. The UCI cannot oblige a sponsor of a men’s team to also create a women’s team. Likewise, we cannot oblige an Organiser to stage a women’s race in parallel with each men’s race. While this may be viable in some cases, in others it would not be possible and could even be detrimental to our sport rather than beneficial. The passion for women’s cycling must come from a more grass roots level, not from creating new rules and obligations.

Having said that, I don’t believe recent statements given by some riders will help women’s cycling to develop.

VT: Is there anything fans can do to support the growth and success of women's pro racing?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: Yes of course ! Fans have a huge part to play in the growth and success of women’s racing. They must get out there and show their support. The more fans that line the roads and demonstrate their love of this sport, the more likely it is that sponsors will also be attracted to invest in women’s cycling.

V.T.: Equal prize money (or better prizes) for the pro women is also a hot topic. What can be done in this regard?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: This is and always has been a delicate subject. The UCI is doing its best but it is true that it is difficult given the volume of money in our sport. At the present time, women’s cycling does not generate the funds that we would like in order to ensure a more even distribution of prize money.

It should not be overlooked that women’s cycling is becoming more and more equitable in other areas – for example the Olympic track cycling programme has been modified to ensure the same number of medals for men and women. This is just one example of recent progress and I hope this will encourage more sponsors to invest in women’s cycling.

VT: Is in possible in the future that some part of the TV revenue from the races will be shared with the teams that create the drama we watch on TV as they do in other pro sports?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: This is a question that is brought up regularly but it is one that is out of our hands as, apart from the World Championships, the UCI does not hold the television rights to the broadcasts of cycling on TV.

VT: A few questions on the growth of pro cycling and International Expansion.  Are you happy with the current growth of cycling with races and teams?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: Yes, of course. The globalisation of cycling has been one of my main priorities as President of the UCI and I am delighted that our leading pro cycling series, the UCI WorldTour, now has races in Australia (Tour Down Under), North America (Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal) and China (Tour of Beijing). These are all relatively new additions to the series and demonstrated the growing popularity of our sport throughout the world.

Likewise, our five UCI Continental Tours (Oceania, Africa, America, Asia and Europe), introduced in 2005, have proved enormously successful, ensuring the development and quality of our sport worldwide.

VT: We really appreciate the increase in UCI races in North America, do you have any more surprises for us in 2012?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: Racing in North America is on the up and up. With Canada’s two UCI WorldTour races in Québec and Montréal and top class events on our UCI America Tour calendar, we can only say that North America has well and truly made a place for itself on the world cycling calendar. No surprises are planned in the region for 2012 but we are always open to suggestions from Organisers, not only for road cycling but all our cycling disciplines!

VT: Is it possible we could see a return to a Men's World Cup with races on each of the continents in the future; or is it a stretch considering the distances involved for the WorldTour teams?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: The UCI WorldTour is our leading cycling series, and in addition we have the successful and high-quality Continental Tours. There is no plan to introduce a World Cup for Elite Men, which could well detract from the well-established formula of the WorldTour / Continental Tours. However, our World Cups for U-23 and Juniors, the UCI Nations Cup, continue.

VT: What broad efforts is the UCI making to market pro cycling around the world or planning to do in 2012?

I recently searched the UCI site for marketing information regarding the financial impact of cycling at events around the world. When I get such information from races I try to post it to the Daily Peloton so potential sponsors and hosts can be enlightened and perhaps be interested in sponsoring races or teams. My search turned up noting on the UCI site (I could have missed something.) I expected to find articles or marketing information (packet) ofen referred to as a media kit. Any company would have such a key item explained giving reasons and statistics available on what a sponsor gets back by sponsoring teams/Cost - Benefit etc. Effectiveness, Return on Investment etc This is all part of the Marketing for Cycling.
 Shouldn't there be an articles or information about the benefits of sponsoring races or cycling teams that might inspire companies to get involved in the sport?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: This is something that we are working on. In the meantime, regularly updated information from our Marketing Department can be found in our newsletters, "UCI Events News" which is sent out to subscribers and published on our website www.uci.ch under our heading "Publications" at the bottom of the Home Page.

What is the UCI doing to bring about a World Junior and U23 Cyclocross Championships and for young women racers as they do for the men?

Mr. Pat McQuaid: Since their introduction in 2000, the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships for women have enjoyed steady growth. At present, the number of participants does not warrant separating the women into three different categories. However, we are constantly monitoring the participation levels and it is indeed possible that in some years to come, if the numbers continue to grow, that we will see Cyclo-cross World Championships for Women U-23 Juniors.

Finally, I would like to wish...happy cycling in the new year to all Daily Peloton readers!

Thanks Mr. McQuaid... here's to a great 2012 season of cycling for all of us from the Daily Peloton staff and readers to you and all the UCI Staff.

Imelda March and Bart Haven contributed to this Interview.

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