Geox and HTC-Highroad. Does UCI benefit from instability?

McQuaid digs chaos.

It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves for a few months. It felt cynical and bitter and paranoid but the more we pondered, the more we found the question legitimate.

Does the UCI — and here we specially mean president Patrick McQuaid — benefit from the financial instability in pro cycling? We think the answer is yes.

Without writing a 10,00 word opus, we all probably agree that McQuaid has an extremely poor relationship with team managers and sponsors. The evidence would cover almost as many pages as Alberto Contador’s legal documents for CAS.

Just as short-hand, there’s the ugly and on-going race radio battle, the Tour of Beijing threats to sponsors, the Armstrong bribe/gift controversy, the non-dialogue on revenue sharing, the suspicious handling of the Contador case, the Mosquera mess the UCI seems incapable of resolving.

Critics have hammered the UCI on the impossibility of both promoting and policing the sport. They’ve also attacked McQuaid on charges of nepotism and conflict of interest. There is a fundamental lack of vision and proactive governance of the sport.

The most successful team in recent years, HTC-Highroad goes out of business and have you heard one statement from the UCI on how they might prevent that scenario in the future? Earlier this year team managers walked out on McQuaid in the middle of his speech and openly talked of forming a breakaway league.

In short, McQuaid in an immensely unpopular president yet he remains in power. Twisted Spoke wonders how this is possible and that brings us back to our cynical question.

It’s our conspiracy theory that McQuaid does indeed benefit from the financial instability in the sport. When the business and sponsorship of pro cycling is in a crisis, it’s a matter of survival. That survival mode means teams are too preoccupied with just paying the bills and staying alive to confront the bigger issues like the competence of McQuaid.

Chaos and instability are a distraction that works in McQuaid’s favor. Note there’s no more talk about a breakaway league because teams are too busy keeping their heads above water. We also find it dispiriting that we’ve heard nothing constructive from the UCI about re-examining the financial model — or any constructive talk about solving a crisis that continues to damage the sport. For a start, they could address some of the thoughtful ideas Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters has put forth.

Twisted Spoke keeps asking why no positive steps are taken by the UCI. We’ve come to the conclusion that Patrick McQuaid doesn’t mind the financial instability if it keeps teams weak, fragmented and under his control.

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  • Franco

    Exactly! The same strategy of keeping the poor poor and a dictator in power has been the selfish, condescendingly arrogant power and control governance structures of most of the world's most vicious tyrants. No, PatMc is not starving or killing people that have chosen to play in his ProTour model…but, he wielding the same techniques and tactics to keep his grip on the sport as those tyrants did on their people.

    Eventually, PatMc's governance will fall…and it may look eerily like some of those tyrant's downfalls. The curious question is what is it going to take to finally have the teams, riders (and finally sponsors) stand up and demand better – what will be the tipping point for change and then what happens to create a new governance structure and financial model that is more sustainable for the sport.

    Many have attempted to make change happen within the current model and PatMc shuts it down. So, it is more clear to me now that the last remaining course of action is revolutionary change to boot PatMc and start over…perhaps it is a new league…it's a TBD…but, time is of the essence as sustainable team sponsorship continues to dwindle faster and faster each year…

    • It's a huge problem and I do believe that Vaughters is at war with McQuaid on several fronts and doing everything he can to change the balance of power and the direction of the sport. I only pray its not getting too late, Matt

      • Franco

        I agree that JV is working it…but, within PatMc's system with only hints of revolutionary tactics like boycott Beijing. I think Bob Stapleton took the same approach and tried to keep the debate and discourse behind closed doors – and my speculation is that Bob has tired of it all and chose to close shop when the daunting task of securing yet another presenting sponsor consumed the team leadership – and PatMc wins with the instability.

        A concerted effort that includes 90% of the constituent groups is required to put forth a new model…hopefully, that change won't require a revolution. But, it is clear that the previous attempts at reconciliation to an enhanced financial model have not be successful.

      • The whole structure of the UCI needs a house-cleaning, I think. JV is pretty sharp — if he thought public hardball tactics would work best, I think he'd do it. It will be interesting to see what the next round of Teams vs. McQuaid will bring on the subject of power and revenue sharing. Matt