Greg LeMond, Jonathan Vaughters and representatives of a new group set up to push for fans to be given a voice in shaping the future of the sport will be attending the Change Cycling Now summit being held in London on Sunday and Monday, which will discuss the need to reform the sport with specific focus on the culture of doping that continues to tarnish it.
The presence of double world champion LeMond, now restored as the most successful American cyclist in the history of the Tour de France, and Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports and manager of the Garmin-Sharp team, adds extra weight to the line-up at the conference, announced earlier this week by Jaimie Fuller, chairman of compression clothing business Skins.
Attendees previously announced include Michael Ashenden, the Australian blood doping expert who devised and ran the UCI’s biological passport programme, and Irish pro cyclist turned journalist Paul Kimmage.
Also present will be Gianni Bugno, like LeMond a two-time world champion, who now heads up the professional riders’ association the CPA, and Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency whose Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case sent shockwaves through the sport.
They will be joined by Emma O’Reilly, former masseuse at US Postal who was one of the first to blow the whistle on Lance Armstrong’s doping, and David Walsh, the author and Sunday Times journalist to whom she made those revelations, and Bike Pure, the organisation that is campaigning for a drug-free sport.
In a blog post on the Skins website, Fuller said: “At the last count, there were at least a dozen others who will be with us in London and their absence from this list certainly does not lessen their influence.
“The quality around the table makes one thing certain: This won’t be a two day bitching session. That would achieve nothing and it would be easier to go down the pub and do that over a beer. (Now there’s a thought…)
“Equally, it would be easy for us to say; “we’re representing the fans” and then make lots of short term, positive noise and leave it at that. But the whole point of this is to genuinely give the fans a chance to join with the likes of legends such as Greg LeMond and force change on cycling, its drug culture and, indirectly, the problems within others sports as well. I can’t tell you how privileged and proud I am that Greg and all the other members of the group have agreed to join us.”
If the names so far announced are hardly the guest list of an annual convention of the Lance Armstrong fan club – several have spent years calling for action to be taken against him and ultimately were key in bringing about his downfall – equally they include high-profile critics of the way cycling is being run by the UCI.
Significantly, besides his role at Garmin-Sharp, Vaughters also presides over professional teams association the AIGCP, and his presence, along with that of Bugno, makes clear that it’s not just a meeting of dissenters from the UCI line.
Equally, however, the strong focus on the men's road side of the sport has led to some criticism on Twitter that those involved in other disciplines, including track, cyclocross, mountain biking and BMX, not to mention women's cycling, may not have the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
A new group set up with the aim of calling for fans to be given a say in the sport – it’s careful to make the distinction that it doesn’t claim to represent fans per se – will also be represented at the two-day meeting, which will be followed by a press conference on Monday evening.
Those attendees are @festinagirl - given it's her profile on Twitter that has led to her being involved in the conference, she believes it's appropriate to remain anonymous - and Scott O’Raw, who tweets as @velocast, both of whom will be familiar to many who engage with road cycling via Twitter.
According to its website,
Cycling Fans' Voice is an organisation dedicated to seeking representation for one of the sport's key stakeholders: the fans of professional cycling.
We believe that the opportunity has arisen to work with other stakeholders - riders, teams, organisers and manufacturers - and together seek equal and fair representation at the sport's governing body, the UCI. The aim is clear; to bring the YOUR ideas and YOUR wishes for YOUR sport into the decision-making process.
In setting up this organisation, we do not claim to represent the voice of the fans. We feel we wish to facilitate that voice being heard - and make it heard for the first time.
It is with this in mind that we will be working alongside Change Cycling Now, an organisation committed to creating an opportunity for EVERYONE to help generate positive changes for the future of professional cycling.
Fans are encouraged to sign up to news by entering their email address on the website, as well as engaging with Cycling Fans’ Voice on Twitter.
Change Cycling Now is also encouraging those who share its goals to use social media to get the message across, including liking its page and sharing it on Facebook, and following it on Twitter and tweeting a message, the suggested text of which is
Hi. A global group has come together to Change Cycling Now. Follow them @cyclingchange and at the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ChangeCyclingNow
According to Change Cycling Now, the reason for that request to share and tweet, rather than simply liking and following, is that by doing so the message is amplified among the individual’s Facebook friends and Twitter users – and the louder the message, the more likely its campaign is to work.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.