Former UCI president Pat McQuaid has slammed the decision of world cycling’s governing body to allow disc brakes in the professional peloton, describing it as “totally ridiculous.” He also revealed that he is writing a book that will focus on his eight years at the helm of the organisation.
Speaking to Jean-Luc Gatellier of French sports daily L’Equipe at the Tour du Haut Var at the weekend – McQuaid is house-hunting in the area – the Irishman, who was president from 2005-13 before being succeeded by Brian Cookson, was also critical of the UCI’s current leadership.
He said he was “very disappointed” in the organisation as it is now, and does not have much confidence in the governing body, which he maintained “makes decisions I don’t understand.”
The example he cited was disc brakes – now allowed in UCI WorldTour races – describing that as “totally ridiculous.”
McQuaid continued: “Rather than carrying out tests, the UCI has left it to the teams to choose between using traditional brakes or disc brakes. That’s irresponsible!
“Now there are two kinds of braking system in the peloton. Disc brakes are more powerful than ones using pads, but are vulnerable to shock and in the event of a crash can cause injuries.
“Then there’s also the issue of compatibility with neutral service vehicles which can’t intervene for disc brakes.”
McQuaid was asked how whether he felt Cookson had made progress in the fight against doping.
“Not much,” he said. “The biological passport, that was down to me. The culture of cycling has changed a lot in the past few years and we left them a good system, even if there are still some teams who function in a rather ‘special’ way.”
Asked which ones, he responded: “I’ll keep that to myself.”
McQuaid said he was “disappointed” at the news a concealed motor had been found in a bike prepared for Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche at the recent UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, but blamed the people around her, rather than the cyclist herself.
He pointed out that it was on his watch that the UCI began checking bikes for concealed motors at the Stage 19 individual time trial at the Tour de France, won by Fabian Cancellara.
Three months earlier, it had been the Swiss rider’s dominant performance at the Tour of Flanders three that first gave rise to rumours of mechanical doping, but when asked if he harboured suspicions at the time, McQuaid replied, “I have no opinion.”
Pressed further, he added: “Cancellara a rider who has always done the right thing. I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t think he could do anything as stupid as that.”
Outlining how he spends his time these days, he revealed: “Currently, I’m writing a book that I hope will be published at the end of the year. I’ve got a lot to say, and I hope people will be interested in it. I’ll talk of my life in cycling – I was born a cyclist – and mainly about my time at the UCI."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.