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Pat McQuaid is Alive and Well

Once the most powerful man in cycling, Pat McQuaid is now living a quiet life in the countryside of southern France. After achieving success as a racer in the 1970s, he became involved with cycling’s governance starting in 1993, when he was elected President of the Irish Cycling Federation. As President of the UCI from 2005 to 2013, he oversaw a transitional period in the organization; the sport was growing rapidly in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s compelling story and seven successive Tour de France wins, and also due to globalization strategies set in motion by the UCI’s first President, the late Hein Verbruggen. McQuaid has maintained a low profile since his two-term tenure as UCI President ended in 2013, but he still has a finger on the pulse of global cycling. His successor, Brian Cookson, is wrapping up his four year term as President of the UCI, and is facing a strong challenge...

Tour de Pharmacy’s Tough Punchline

Fans of the TV show Portlandia are amused by the quirky portrayals of Portland’s residents, and the unique ways in which they interact with their insular world. But for actual residents of the city of Portland, the show can make for uncomfortable viewing because it highlights the all-too-real stereotypes of the people, places, and activities that make the socially-progressive city one of the centers of the of the tree-hugging, liberal world. Cycling’s die-hard fans and its stakeholders are in for the same rude awakening, when HBO Films’ “mockumentary” Tour de Pharmacy airs on July 8th. There is an old adage – that often things which are said in jest are said half in truth. Satire and comedy often reflect the uncomfortable aspects of real life, and in this light some cycling fans may enjoy the program, but there will probably be just as many fans turned off or offended by the portrayal...

Entering a New Dimension

When The Outer Line first talked with Team Dimension Data general manager Doug Ryder several years ago, he emphasized that he was building a different kind of team – one structured around a philanthropic cause, but ultimately focused on earning an African-based team the opportunity to participate in the Tour de France. He has made major strides since then, and today, the WorldTour’s sole African team is continuing to demonstrate – to the other teams and to the overall sport – an innovative model to improve the accessibility and sustainability of pro cycling. But along the way, Ryder has found that holding onto that spot in the WorldTour is just as hard as winning any of the sport’s Monuments. The controversial UCI points system, which ranks the athletic competitiveness of teams and individual athletes, also dictates the fortunes of teams aspiring to join or simply maintain their spot...

The Status of Women’s Pro Cycling – Part 3: Owning the Road Ahead

(Editors’ Note:  In our previous articles in this series, we featured a discussion with Iris Slappendel – an emerging leader of women’s cycling – as well as a detailed look at the issues of sexism and abuse in the sport.  We now turn towards the future, and propose some ideas for a future roadmap, by which professional women cyclists and other key stakeholders can work together to bring positive change to the sport’s competitive landscape and economic future.) When the 2017 Tour de France race route was recently presented to the public, its companion race for professional women – “La Course” – was shifted out of the global spotlight of finishing on the Champs Elysees on the iconic final day of the Tour, and moved to a one-day mountain challenge in an isolated part of the Alps.  This change is both a tangible and a symbolic step backwards; even the L’Etape du Tour (the annual one-day...

Revitalizing American Bike Racing – A Talk with Michael Aisner: Part 2

In the first part of this series, Michael Aisner shared many fond and exciting memories from the old Coors Classic days. He also alluded to a number of important business lessons that can be learned from the success of that event. In fact, many of the innovative marketing approaches, organization-building tactics and operating methods that the “Classic” pioneered may be increasingly relevant today – as more and more American racing events struggle to achieve stability and profitability. In this article, we talk in more detail with Aisner about some of these key recommendations for stabilizing and revitalizing American cycling today. Aisner firmly believes that cycling must be viewed as part of the broader entertainment business, and that sports are therefore in constant competition against all other forms of entertainment. There are now thousands of cable, satellite, and online...

The Status of Women’s Pro Cycling – Part 2: A Cultural Legacy of Sexism and Abuse

(Editors’ note: In our previous article, Iris Slappendel outlined some of the biggest challenges in the sport, and pointed out several different types of sexism and harassment that still occur within women’s cycling.  This second article shares the personal accounts of various women who have experienced these types of problems, their personal insights, and some of their recommendations about what needs to change inside the sport in order to break these cycles of abuse.) A legacy of abuse and sexism unfortunately continues to simmer just beneath the surface of women’s professional cycling – and particularly within the smaller and more thinly-supported teams. This negative culture puts many cyclists at risk, and severely undermines the sport’s reputation and potential for long-term economic growth. Governance protections and oversight in place today are woefully inadequate. Rather...