Must have been the Barolo.
See what happens when you hang out with Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan? Already irritated and disgusted by the autocratic ways of the UCI, Jonathan Vaughters spent some time with Zomegnan and discussed ideas over a few glasses of Barolo.
Some very bold ideas, apparently. According to Cyclingnews, eleven major teams are considering the creation of new, more commercially driven and innovatively managed structure to run pro cycling. The men behind the plan: Vaughters and the always visionary head of RCS Sports, Zomegnan.
Still, the cagey Italian wasn’t quite ready to dump cards on the table. “I’ve drank quite a few coffees with lots of different people in the last few days, but the project hasn’t been presented to us yet. Before we can really sit down and discuss it, we need to know what they’ve got in mind,” he said. (That’s the coffee talking, but the barolo is the inspiration.)
“There is a risk of a breakaway from the UCI, of course there is. But it’s early to talk about it and RCS Sport is obliged to stay on the side of the sport that has been created by the national and international federations,” said Zomegnan.
It’s Twisted Spoke’s educated guess that a significant number of riders, team managers, sponsors and manufacturers consider the UCI, and president Patrick McQuaid in particular, to be criminally incompetent. The organization is consistently at odds with all major constituents and turns a blind eye and closed ears to calls for input into decisions.
Jonathan Vaughters has yet to go prime time with a plan but the rumors are circulating fast. “I think the most productive step for the AIGCP is to continue to push to improve governance, to improve regulations and improve treatment by the UCI,” said Vaughters.
“But we’d be crazy not to consider it. When you’re treated poorly, you’ve got to consider the relationship, right? Ultimately you’ve got say ‘Is this the best thing for the sport? As of right now, I can’t answer of that with any surety.”
Disagreements over the race radio ban have turned into a nasty war on the bigger issue of democratic decision making within the sport itself. Despite the overwhelming unpopularity of the radio ban with riders and team managers, the UCI has refused all compromise.
Faced with a governing body that allows no meaningful input, the riders union and team managers have threatened a boycott of the Tour of Beijing. An action, Patrick McQuaid called “blackmail” and a rebellion. Sadly, McQuaid comes across as a blind and foolish leader last seen played by former US president Bush and Mad King George.
Now we’re watching a massive game of chicken, a double dog dare, a scorched earth strategy that embarrasses the entire sport. Patrick McQuaid may soon be out of a job, replaced by anyone who knows the words “compromise” and “keep your mouth shut.” McQuaid, to offer some undeniable evidence, is not James Dean.
Things to consider: you don’t fuck with Jonathan Vaughters. The man knows how to build a case and he doesn’t escalate unless he has the firepower. He doesn’t make idle threats he can’t back up.
Same goes for rich, smart team CEO’s like HTC-Highroad’s Bob Stapleton and BMC’s Andy Rhys. You don’t dictate terms to millionaire guys like Bob and Andy and you certainly don’t freeze them out and write patronizing letters like McQuaid has done. Faux pas numero 185 in a long line of UCI mistakes.
If Vaughters has Zomegnan and RCS sports in his camp, he’s got Milan-Sanremo, the Giro di Lombardia and Tirreno Adriatico. In the United States, you can guess he’s already got support from the Amgen Tour of California and being a Denver native, he’s got the Quiznos Pro Challenge in Colorado.
Vaughters is almost universally respected in pro cycling and has great relations with ASO. Line up ASO and you’ve got the organizers of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Critérium du Dauphiné, Paris–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, La Flèche Wallonne and Paris–Tours.
Now throw in the support of eleven major ProTour teams and you’ve enough dominos for a whole new game. If this is a bluff, it’s a damn good one.
Patrick McQuaid has made his last blustery threat and soon his only job might be running the Tour of Beijing. Good luck with the Chinese lessons.