Wednesday, March 5, 2008

McQuaid and Me

In light of all the UCI vs ASO jibber jabber, I thought now might be a good time to recount a quick tale from my recent trip to the Amgen Tour of California. I have been waiting to comment on this whole Paris-Nice fiasco since the stories change on a daily basis, but it seems that we are getting nowhere fast and I wanted to post something relevant. If I had a humorous and somewhat awkward story to tell about Eric Boyer or Patrice Clerc, I certainly would. But I don't, so the following story will have to suffice.

Okay...I'm cruising around the staging area of the Time Trial in Solvang and I notice Pat McQuaid and Jim Ochowicz walking a few feet behind me. I rarely ask for a picture with people at bike races but it's not often that you have immediate opportunities with the President of the UCI and the one and only "Och" so I quickly asked if my Father could take a picture of me with "two of the biggest guys in cycling."

McQuaid chuckled, grabbed his belly and responded, "Well, I guess I am getting pretty big."

We all laughed and I amended my statement to, "Okay, maybe that was unfair. How about 'most influential' guys in cycling?"

We took the shot and parted ways as I wished McQuaid luck in his many battles and Ochowicz in his many financial opportunities. I tend to look somewhat longingly at those who occupy upper-level positions in professional cycling, but I wouldn’t wish the UCI President's job description on my worst enemy right now. In fact, I really feel sorry for McQuaid relative to the position he occupies between the teams and the organizers.

As a side note, does it concern anyone out there that Hein Verbruggen is still a Vice-President of the UCI? It could be argued that this is the guy who instigated the development of the ProTour as well as much of the on-going conflict with the ASO. He is well-known for being exceedingly stubborn and I am quite sure, still has significant influence over how the sport of professional cycling is run. I'm just not sure it helps pave the way for a positive future when there is so much old, bad blood still pulling strings in both the UCI and ASO. McQuaid and Prudhomme are like sons that inherit their Father's battles.

Or like Sato's nephew in Karate Kid II, for example. If you recall, the angry nephew hated Daniel-san because Miyagi had snaked off with Sato's girlfriend back in the day. See the similarities? Of course you do. Everyone can relate to the overwhelming wisdom of the Karate Kid Trilogy.

Maybe all we need is for the riders to stand in front of the UCI and ASO and start banging those little drums like they did in Okinawa to stop the nephew from murdering the rapidly aging Ralph Macchio. Anything is worth a shot at this point. For reference, I think the UCI is currently being represented by Daniel-san in this analogy.

Anyway, I crossed paths with the Irishman again before the start in Santa Barbara. He recognized me this time and I jokingly asked him to give me odds for Astana making it to the Tour de France this year. He chuckled and then looked me dead in the eye and said, "I wouldn't give any."


It was a good thing that one of the many Levi-supporters didn't overhear us because Pat was deadly serious when he responded to me. Then it got kind of awkward, I again wished him luck and we finally parted ways.

I thought about asking, "Can't we all just get along?" but I wasn't sure if he would get the Rodney King reference and didn't want to press my luck. He is a pretty big guy after all. Er…I mean, influential.

Actually, I think that the enduring message of Mr. King's plea is applicable to the UCI/ASO feud as well. But until the interested parties actually commit to resolving this conflict in a mutually satisfactory fashion and actually realize they must compromise for their own future benefit, the riders and fans will still be left asking the same question.

Can't We All Just Get Along?


Baublehead said...

I hate the politics in cycling. The best team in the world can't race the best race in the world. Just lame.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

I think just about everybody feels the same way. The business of professional cycling is embarrassing when compared to other sports. Let alone other businesses.

Salaries are pathetic, support and stability are almost non-existent. There is no solidarity amongst the teams.

And the people that are punsihed the most are the riders, sponsors and fans. Those parties responsible for much of the conflict are affected the least by their actions.

It's very sad. Between this and the doping issues, where are new cycling fans coming from?