From The Top: David Lappartient, President of the UCI

Dec 11, 2018
by Matt Wragg  



Our starting point has to be your manifesto from last year. I was a little bit worried what was going to happen with mountain biking, as there were maybe only three or four mentions of mountain biking in the whole manifesto. So naturally, that left me a little nervous about what your presidency would bring.


Let me explain. The manifesto was about what we want to change in cycling. We recognize what has been done in mountain biking [over recent years] was not so bad. Of course, we have new disciplines, and we have new formats to implement, but this manifesto wasn't the place to go into all the details. It was the big picture and for mountain biking, it's not [in need of] the same scale as the reform of professional road cycling.

We have to renew completely, professional [road] cycling. We have to make some evolutions in mountain bike, but not a revolution, I would say. That's why we have less key points than some other disciplines, I would say, key points like governance, proportion of women in the governance, gender parity, all these kind of subjects. That's why we had more pages on these topics that we need to change.

What does a career that leads to the UCI presidency look like?


I come from a cycling family. My father has been a rider on the road, my mother also rode bicycles, she took part in a few races. My father was the president of a local club, so I've been involved since I was very young in a club and in the cycling family, always as a volunteer. I've always been a rider myself on the road, a little bit in cyclo-cross, also on the track, but more on the road. At the time it was really the beginning of mountain biking. So I rode these three disciplines. When I stopped competing in 1993 I became a commissaire, then president of the local club.
Interview with David Lappartient UCI president. Aigle Switzerland. Photo by Matt Wragg
The belly of the beast that Lappartient now steers.

After, I was elected to the board of my national federation, the French Cycling Federation in 1997. I was then elected to the UCI Management Committee in 2005. I've also been the president of the Mountain Bike Commission at the UCI from 2009 to 2013.

How much time do you spend on your mountain bike?


I have always ridden mountain bikes for leisure and where I live it's not so hilly, so it is nice for me to ride but more specifically in winter. In summer I am usually on my road bike, but in winter, I like to go with my mountain bike.

I think I have a good knowledge about mountain bikes, and also because I was the president of the French Cycling Federation and mountain biking is a key discipline in France. We had more than 25,000 license holders and there are a lot of competitions, so I was really involved in these years.

Just to give some context of scale from mountain bike to road, what is the split for license holders between the different disciplines in cycling?


Worldwide, road and MTB count for 40% and 20% of license holders, followed by BMX (10%) and others (30%).

One of the things that has impressed me about cycling in France is how integrated it all is for kids. When they start riding, the U23 system makes them ride XC, DH, and trials, not just one discipline in isolation - which I think, makes for more rounded riders. Will we see the U23 category come to more global prominence?


When we integrated the licenses for mountain bikes into the FFC, some regional committees were very focused on road cycling. And so there were these guys coming from mountain biking, more connected, younger, punchy... What was strange is that it was at the national level with the federation, where it was better than at the regional level. The regional level was more conservative and we had to push and to show an example from the top. And so we spent a lot of money on this.

Sometimes the riders would come to me and say, "Okay, what do you do with the money for my license? I want to have my money back like Mrs. Thatcher." But I said, "Look, guys, if you have a look at where we are today, I don't want to divide the revenues and expenses by discipline, because you will see that most of the revenues are coming from the road. And the money we spend to send you to the World Championships, most of the money's coming from the road. So if I do this, the road will want their money back and is that what you really want?"

Take the World Championships in Canberra. In Australia, we spent something like €280,000 on our mountain bike team. It was a lot of money. It's not just coming from the mountain bike family, it's coming from all of us. I think the model is going well and finally it's not a confederation of different disciplines. It really is a federation where each family takes care of the other members.

Looking at the crop of French riders currently dominating the World Cup DH, that must be a pretty good legacy from your time at the FFC, as all of those riders will have come up through the system.


It's working very well, we had a strong season and we are taking care of all the disciplines, including downhill. I remember we had something like 2,500 licenses just for downhill. For enduro, it was maybe more.

Interview with David Lappartient UCI president. Aigle Switzerland. Photo by Matt Wragg
Will the sport of enduro carve its name into this timeline?

During your time in the French Federation, you were the first national federation to recognize enduro as a legitimate discipline of mountain bike racing, back in 2011.


Yes.

And, were you sitting on the UCI's Mountain Bike Commission at the same time?


Yes.

How did this come around? For instance, in the UK, enduro is still not an officially recognized discipline by BC, so how do you reach this point where you decide that this is something that you should be supporting?


Because I was a strong supporter of enduro inside the UCI. Unfortunately at the time, for I would say, economic reasons due to the budget, the General Director decided that we had to cut some things and the money that was supposed to be invested in developing the discipline was held back.
I think it was a mistake from the UCI at the time.bigquotes

We had to postpone the decision to welcome this discipline into the UCI. We were working with Chris Ball at the time, he was the coordinator of gravity disciplines. I was really pushing for this too, but the UCI said no, so he left UCI and he launched his own series. But, in the meantime, I was still leading the French Federation, I had the power to say "Okay" for the French Federation, I could make these decisions, so we will welcome this discipline." I think it was a mistake from the UCI at the time.

How is the UCI involved in the Adverse Analytical Finding returned by two EWS racers last May in Olargues, France?


This event wasn’t registered on the UCI Mountain Bike International Calendar and the tests were conducted under the jurisdiction of France’s AFLD, which is currently dealing with the results management. For this reason, the UCI is not implicated in the event anti-doping testing activities nor in its results management. But from the 2019 season, the EWS will join the UCI, and the participants will be tested, as are mountain bike athletes and cyclists from all UCI disciplines, by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), the independent organization mandated by our International Federation to define and implement cycling’s anti-doping strategy.

The UCI/EWS deal is something of a controversial one for some people within mountain biking. They worry about the UCI competing or taking over the EWS. Do you see that risk, or how do you see that relationship? Would you prefer the UCI took a stronger leadership role, as with the World Cup?


What I would say is that first of all, due to the fact that we disappeared on this subject, they took that place. We have to recognize that. They have done a good job. They are supporting enduro and our idea is not to push out a stakeholder that has been good at developing the discipline.

We need to work together and that's why we have an agreement for this. It's not new for us to work like this - on the road, we work closely with ASO, for example, in BMX we also have strong stakeholders, so I think this will be good for enduro.

The qualifying changes to the DH World Cup this year seem to be a step towards the sport becoming more of a made-for-TV spectacle and moving away from a participation sport. If you look at, say, Supercross in the US, you get to race day and it's about 20 guys in the final race, whereas at the moment it's still 60 in World Cup. Is that the sort of direction you see DH taking?


I don't think we can reduce the numbers too much because if you look at the nationalities of the top 20, you have some countries with a lot of riders, Great Britain, France for example, so we have to ensure that we have a wide universality in our sport. And if you reduce the numbers too much that could be a problem. So we have to find a good balance in this.

The season-long qualifying protection for the top ten seems to be a very positive move for the sport. What was the thinking behind this?


You need to have top athletes and ensure that they will be there.

Which then comes to the other question of World Cup rounds. Why only seven races? Why not 20 like Formula One or MotoGP?


You know, I've heard there is more money in Formula One or MotoGP than in downhill [laughs]! We spoke with the teams and if you want to ensure a good level of participation, too many rounds could be a problem, because some teams are maybe not strong enough to cover the costs of traveling all over the world. So, we have to find a good balance. Maybe it used to be ten races in cross-country, it's not anymore.

Of course, we can maybe have more candidates applying to hold races, but we have to ensure that it's not too many because the economics of the sport maybe aren't strong enough to match how many rounds we could hold.

Is that a decision made by the UCI or is that made in consultation with the teams?


We have the mountain bike commission where our stakeholders discuss this kind of matter. That means, of course, representatives of the national federations. Greg Minnaar is a member of the commission. We have organizers, teams, and they all meet to discuss this together.

Sometimes, some of them want to increase, some of them want to decrease. So it's something we decide, but in consultation, and I have not received any bad feedback about the number of rounds. Maybe some of them want to increase a little bit and we will have eight rounds in 2019.

One comment we always get on Pinkbike is that a lot of North Americans would like to see two or three races on that side of the Atlantic. Is there a particular reason why there aren't more races in America? One impression that comes from the comments is a feeling that it is very expensive, maybe too expensive, to hold a WC round.


I don't think we are too expensive. We try to be realistic with the economics of our sport and each time I speak with Peter Van Abeele [UCI Off-road Commissioner - ie. head of mountain bikes] we always try to be at the right level and not to be too expensive for an organizer.
We are an international federation, not the European federation, so we need to cover all the areas in the world...bigquotes

We are an international federation, not the European federation, so we need to cover all the areas in the world, but for this, we need to have candidates who want to hold these races. We cannot have completely different prices depending on where you are. If we did that I would get complaints from some organizers, saying, "Okay, if it's 50% less in the US for a race..." and that would be a problem.

Presumably, with venues like Mont St Anne, Fort William and Leogang calling on you to come back year after year, it must be a viable business opportunity for them.


Yes, because these cities want to develop a bike strategy. Others, sometimes as a ski mountain or area like this, it's also important for them to be recognized, not only as the winter destination, but as a summer destination, and for this, cycling is a very good opportunity. Mountain biking is a very good opportunity with cross-country, but also with downhill, if they have ski lifts for it. So when I speak with some of them, it's part of their global strategy to be seen as a cycling destination or a mountain bike destination.

Of course, they are completely aware that they will not reach the same market as in winter, but they can't sleep for six months or eight months, so they need to have something else in summer and cycling, and mountain biking more specifically, is a good opportunity for this.

Interview with David Lappartient UCI president. Aigle Switzerland. Photo by Matt Wragg
The track at the UCI's headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland.

One thing that really interested me in the manifesto is your idea about the Festival of Cycling for World Championships bringing together all the disciplines. I find myself torn with this, coming from a downhill perspective at least. A Festival of Cycling sounds fantastic, but when you look where the 2016 Road Worlds were in Qatar, it would be a disaster for mountain biking and I worry about mountain biking being dragged somewhere unsuitable.


It's difficult to have downhill in Qatar, to be honest [laughs]. First of all, this festival would be once every four years, not every year, the year before the Olympic Games. It will be all the world championships together, except cyclocross because it is a winter discipline, but we will have all the disciplines including downhill.

So downhill will be part of the festival and of course, also urban trials, cross-country, eliminator, short track. All these disciplines will be part of the program. In fact, it's 14 world championships together. That's huge, and downhill is an important part of the program.

One thing many people outside the UCI maybe don't realize is the timescale an organization like yours works on. Because of its very nature. it tends to be slower to react than the private sector. For instance, although you have been in charge for a year, the Lenzerheide World Championships were already in place before you took office.


First of all, for such a huge organization, I think we work fast. It was an idea I had and I put the festival in my manifesto. I hope we'll have good support from this, and I spoke with the European Broadcasting Union and they are fully behind this. To bring all the disciplines together is not so easy. To find the place and time on the calendar is not so easy, especially with the UCI World Tour calendar on the road. We have been able to find a period when you can have everything.

Of course, you will not be able to have the individual time trial, the downhill, and the indoor cycling all on the same day, but you will have the opportunity one day after another, and if you are watching this on TV, then you will move from the time trial to the downhill and to, for example, indoor cycling.
In many countries, it's impossible to have (downhill) on public channels, so I think this really provides a great opportunity for some disciplines.bigquotes

I believe that for downhill, it will be a great opportunity to promote the discipline. In many countries, it's impossible to have the discipline on public channels, so I think this really provides a great opportunity for some disciplines. Look, for example, at what happened with the European Championship this year.

They were in Glasgow, weren't they?


Yes. You had seven sports together and the TV coverage and the audience was very good, especially for the smaller disciplines. If you take the BMX as an example, we had BMX on live TV on public channels everywhere in Europe for the European Championships. The World Championships did not have the same level of coverage as the one we had for the European Championship, because we aggregated all seven disciplines.

I was president of the European Cycling Union when we decided to do this. We will not put ourselves in with other sports, but have the different disciplines of cycling together. I think for the athletes and for the fans, it will be wonderful. People from the road will have the opportunity to go to see downhill and vice versa. It's a big, big step.

Which brings us into the Olympics. As I understand it there are only a set number of cycling events the IOC will allow into the Olympics and currently, cycling is at its limit for them. Do you see downhill as a potential Olympic discipline or do you think that's the wrong direction for the sport?


First of all, I would be happy to support new disciplines from cycling to enter the Olympic program. The only points we have to have in mind are that the IOC doesn't want to increase the number of athletes - 10,500 athletes. So if you enter with a new discipline you have to cut other disciplines. It will also be the same with the number of medals. They took some medals from the track to have BMX and mountain bike.

So that's why we lost, for example, the Madison, even if the Madison is now coming back. We lost the points race, we lost the pursuit. All these disciplines were lost to make room for new disciplines. I think we are at the minimum on these current disciplines, so if it's the same athletes, it's easier. Take for an example short track in cross-country, it is less difficult to get that in, because you can do this with the same athletes.

What does that do for the medal count? Does that complicate things?


It's part of the decision. If you have new discipline, you have a new venue, you have new cost and they want to manage the size of the Olympic Games, as you saw recently that Japan withdrew its candidature for 2026. In fact, I don't know if they will find an organizer for the winter games in 2026. So that's something the IOC has in mind.

The other point for downhill is that they want to be connected with young generations. So, downhill is probably more connected than some other disciplines because it's something that the young generation wants to see. So, of course we will have a meeting tomorrow with the IOC about the 2020 and 2024 programs. Of course, we are requesting to have more disciplines, but we have to be realistic. You can also lose disciplines. We have just to keep in mind that, just because there are five cycling disciplines today, that we can maintain that five in the future.

So yes, I would be happy to support downhill as an Olympic discipline, but for this, the discipline has to have stronger universality. They are always looking at how many continental championships we have. How many national championships do we have? How many riders took part in the last world championships? Yes, it's getting bigger, but it's not so big in comparison with other disciplines. So, maybe the universality of downhill is not so strong for the moment, but on the other hand, we will have BMX Freestyle arriving for the first time at the Olympic Games in 2020 and that was a request from the IOC to be connected with the young generation...

Okay, that's interesting. It didn't come from you?


No, at the beginning it was not expected. Of course, we were happy to support this, but it was... We were not expecting to have this discipline included as fast as this.

Interview with David Lappartient UCI president. Aigle Switzerland. Photo by Matt Wragg

If I had to boil down what you have said, it seems that your big passion is to try to bring cycling together. Is that a fair assessment of what you want to do?


Yes, I like this. I want mountain bikers to consider themselves part of the same family, and that they are part of the global cycling family. I think we have such a big opportunity with all the disciplines, while in some sports they have only one discipline. You take archery. It's only one discipline, even if you can do it alone or in a team.

We have so many disciplines for the 2023 festival to mix together. It was a series of nice discussions to implement this. And the athletes say themselves that they like to be together. They like to be with the road riders or to be with the track cyclists. They like to be together.


146 Comments

  • + 118
 What a roadie
  • + 7
 He can't wait for his afternoon MAMIL spin.
  • + 13
 WTF is Madison?
  • + 13
 @BobChicken: Isn't she a porn star?
  • + 29
 Opinions in the comments section of a PB article are worthless, actions and money on the other hand. Beefing on roadies just further portrays us to be the bunch of moaning disgruntled types we are. This is the card we have, either get off your ass and promote the sport into the Olympics or more to a mainstream or deal with it
  • + 63
 @usmbc-co-uk: Who the hell wants to be associated with the corrupt, doped, life-destroying, despot-endorsing Olympics?
  • + 8
 I am already practicing peeing on my bike to save time!
  • + 0
 @oscartheballer: The roadies for sure since they are being caught for doping.

The truth is there is not a single elite athlete that doesn't do or didn't do doping of any type in his life. Some use non banned substances and others are going through the system even if they use banned substances. They just want to win no matter what because it's all their life.
  • + 8
 @usmbc-co-uk: roadie sympathizer
  • + 1
 @Thustlewhumber: that's a triathlon thing. The UCI may have issues, but for peeing on yourself you'll have to join the ITU or WTC.
  • + 2
 @Thustlewhumber: I assume you mean "peeing while on my bike" and not literally on your bike? Sorry, the wording made me chuckle.
  • + 1
 haha yea
  • + 77
 Presuming he approved the shot of him looking like a 1980s Wall Street trader.

He couldn’t even find one MTB in the building to pose with. Not one?
  • + 14
 I tried not to jump to that conclusion. But I did.
  • + 7
 lol would have been hilarious if he got the first mtb he could find and just put a load of bro baggies on and throw a shaka. Would have been better than that shot lifted from his LinkedIn account anyway
  • + 33
 If he posed with a mountain bike people would just be calling him a phoney instead...
  • + 28
 If you look at the pic of the entrance to UCI HQ, just to the left there is a race BMX track, where teeneage girls send tripples bigger than Crabapple bits, on kids bikes. But that does not interest them much I guess.

www.instagram.com/p/BmDjGYKhQMj/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=6jad8l0ayclg
  • + 3
 @noplacelikeloam There are no MTBs in there actually, the only tracks there are cyclocross, race bmx, dirt pump track and that indoor loop. You can only spot few motorcycles to run indoor ^^
  • + 33
 I realize us mountain bikers like to think we’re a fairly inclusive and non-judgmental bunch, (not true) but judging the man’s outfit, in my estimation, is everything we purport to despise about roadies, and to a more pertinent extent, the UCI.
  • + 5
 For some reason I have the feeling the only picture he has of him riding a MTB would be some 1999 K2 Proflex on a gravel road... Completely out of touch with modern MTB'ing.
  • + 6
 @Jamminator: it's not that hard to figure out. Road racing is a much older discipline than MTB and then there's much more money in it. It takes time to gain power, thus a roadie is more likely to be in position of power than a mountain biker. However since the pool of people in the management is filled with roadies it will be harder for a MTBer to come in. Especially because of the money... it's like a politician paid by renewables trying to punch through a field of folks inpockets of oil industry. That's how organisms work with each other.
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns: Imagine if any CEO of a Fortune 500 company only cared about 40% of their business and ignored 60%...they would be voted out of a job by their executive boards in no time. Yet for some reason it's acceptable in the UCI where one can largely ignore that 60% (cumulative licenses of other non-road disciplines) to focus on the 40% (road). Mind boggling.
  • + 11
 @Jamminator: that is of less relevance. He focuses on what brings money. Road surely brings more money in total to UCI than MTB. 20/80 principle. 20% of clients bring 80% of revenue. Then remember that the majority of MTB is flat bar gravel, aka XC Marathon. Which leaves Enduro and DH extremely low on scale of influence. If only because they are not Olympic disciplines

A regular mountain biker doesn’t get anything from UCI directly. It is a very indirect relation where UCI pushes the sport in a certain direction, making it more professionalized, giving it more exposure and in this way making grass roots movements gain a bit more momentum, which results in more trails, more training facilities, coaching and higher average skill/fitness level.
  • + 21
 He may wear a suit Mon-Thurs but on Fridays David let’s loose and wears jeans with a dress shirt.
  • + 8
 @WAKIdesigns: "Road racing is a much older discipline than MTB"

Indeed, Road cycling is to Europe (France and Belgium at least) what NASCAR is to 'murica, only much older. Its less a sport and more a religion. It has its roots in working class history.

MTB is the young upstart cousin. its barely 50 years old. Cycling is 200 yrs old.
  • + 6
 @jeremiahwas: Exactly. I’ve always wondered why mountain bikers seem to worry so much about what someone else is wearing (generally on the bike, but I guess off it too.)
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: what?! ok someone get the measuring tape.
  • + 0
 @OllyR: yep, think of road cycling as men's sport and MTB as women's. Does that work?
  • + 7
 Why should he? He's a businessman/politician that happens to line things with 2 wheels. He also admits to being primarily a roadie. Him being in a photo with an MTB would just look like a middle-class dad trying to look l like a rapper
  • + 2
 @Jamminator: like it or not, while road make up 60%, the Tour de France is 95% of the revenue
  • + 1
 @OllyR my experience of road racing is that it is a religion only in Italy, everywhere else, it is golf on wheels. Elitist sport. Also silently extreme, since a chance of getting rolled onto a wheel of a truck is rather high.
  • + 1
 “Ok sir walk for me. Ok a little slower, yeah like that. Look more concerned, like you actually have a responsibility. Yeah pretend you’re talking on the phone about something really serious. Ok now take off your coat sir, hold it like you just got home from a hard day at the office”
  • + 1
 @bridgermurray: or

Caller; sir, your STD test your results have come in.

Him; oh god, how am I going to explain this one.
  • + 1
 @noplacelikeloam: he looks relieved on the last pic though...
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Whoa there! Don't crap on Golf! It's my favorite drinking game! I'm far from elitist.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Religion in France too. And it's a big current trend in the UK, where Chris Hoy, Wiggins, Cavendish et all have made a lot of people think it's a fun thing to do. Don't know if it'll last. Golf is also relatively mainstream in the UK. Tennis however...
  • + 1
 @drunknride: I don't like elitist vibes without skill involved... the only elitist vibes I get is people making me feel they ride better than me. I am fine with that. Although (sorry to sound pretentious) at my level, people faster than me tend to be on the level where skill brings humility. Very few dickheads in that range, no matter how big it is (and to put myself back on the ground, that group is still big) Empty elitism is often a result of being too stupid to realize how stupid you are. Like those packs of fully padded moto dudes on DH bikes in bike parks; sending dead sailors on green and red trails, only to burn rotors on black ones. Their sausages ease off and retract as soon as there is a faster dude around. But if not... oooh they will look down on you. Same with a certain type of XC folks coming to group rides. A rarity in my area now since everyone realized the sht gets rough on downs, but some still pop up. Their first ride usually consists of pushing hard on climbs, only to find themselves choking on steeps and making a stupid smile face ooooh I have to work on my skills, hoho haha, the tough trails today aye? - ooooh, no, everyday actually, I guess you should have thought of that before you put yourself in front of a larger group on larger bikes..
  • + 1
 @OllyR: not wrong, in 98 we went to Toulouse on a guys Football Testimonial, he took us to his grandad's place.
He had ridden in the tour and his bike was hanging on a wall, they revered it, it was like a holy shrine.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: The trick to it all is being anti-elitist without being a hipster which is just an elitist that dresses like an idiot. Somewhere in the middle are people doing what they like even without posting it to social media. Like when a few friends go for a ride and take no pictures. The remembrance of the event becomes more epic with every post ride beer. No one else cares or is expected to.
  • + 3
 @drunknride: I hate hipsters more than elitists. Because elitists are honest. Hipsters are elitists in denial. They just don't see how elitist they are by resenting 80% of what their eyes and ears register and being contrarian by default. BTW no pics from riding sounds hip AF Big Grin
  • + 1
 @chriscowleyunix: That revenue, however, is entirely dependent on corporate sponsorship - most of it from outside the industry. And that sponsorship is very much at risk with the continued onslaught of scandals, mostly doping related. He's correct, road racing is very much in need of reform to remain that cash cow for the UCI, let alone remain viable.
  • + 1
 Exactly, the cover shot speaks volumes. Suckin the soul out. Remember when Terje Håkonsen boycotted the olympics ?
  • + 1
 @Jamminator: yes but if that 60% makes only 10% of the income and would it would cost you 80% of your income over a decade or more to make it pay as well as the 40% does now then I'd ignore it too...and I'm in that 60%!
  • + 11
 I don't get all the criticism here. The photo is a candid shot, I was setting up a portrait of him in front of the World Cycling Centre (where the good light was), and this shot popped up and for me it sums up what I saw of him, a very busy man (and I like the composition/light, personally).

Do people simply object to him wearing a suit? What do you expect the president of a the world cycling federation to wear, tie-dye and dreads? Would you prefer a forced shot next to a mountain bike to ease your sensibilities? And as for shooting him on the BMX track, I thought about that, scouted it and, quite frankly the location was shit and, again, the photo would have looked very forced. On a job like this you work with what you can find (I couldn't take lights as had no checked baggage and had to work to his hectic schedule, so where maybe I found some good light in the morning, by the time I shot the portrait it was long gone...), so I hunted around for an interesting location with light - if you look in the full gallery the actual portrait in this location is similar, but with the UCI logo in the background.
  • + 2
 @mattwragg: I totally believe you when you say that this is a candid shot. I think you captured the subject very honestly. The truth in the photo is what worries me.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: We want him to wear worn out tight jeans with "FEST" tattoed on his fist knuckles and flats4life on the palm of his hand, key chain made of 8sp chain and all that. One of the boys, you know.

BTW would you send the doubles on the proline on the BMX track? Big Grin
  • + 1
 @mattwragg:

Hey Matt, as a prior art director and yes now executive, I’ll try to provide some more objective critique as I do these shoots a lot.

It’s his distracted sensibilities that appear to make him distant from the interview. The shot makes him seem superficial at a time that he should be looking to engage with a very down to earth community. The scope of Pinkbike readership would have been a great opportunity to come across as one in touch with the community he represents. Instead it is the opposite.

Standing proud at a velodrome is a nicely composed piece but again it’s the context of this interview and it’s audience. It doesn’t help that the UCI is a challenging body for some to accept here and using a velodrome as a background creates further distance.

If he is a genuine guy and wants to show support and engagement, just show some candid photography of him engaging in the interview and showing interest.

Don’t mean to criticize your work and I appreciate the time crunch these shoots have, but honestly, he should have pushed for this, and it’s concerning he or his Marketing team didn’t seize on the opportunity.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: That thing scares the piss out of me, no.
  • + 5
 @noplacelikeloam: Some fair points there. The choice of shot was down to me, and if you look in the full gallery I would be interested to know if you think there is a better option in there (DM me).

However, I don’t shoot during interviews - I listen.

I do take offence to suggesting a velodrome is inappropriate, however - I hate the petty tribalism within cycling - I think cycling should just be cycling and the more different bikes I ride, the more fun I seem to have.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Have you been in a group of roadies before? That is something that no mountain biker is ever willing to endure
  • + 4
 @noplacelikeloam: Dr f*ckin' humblebrag over here !
  • + 1
 @DGWW: fair shout. I deserved that! You got my upvote.
  • + 1
 @me2menow: I have been indeed a few times. They are actually really ok to ride road with, the usual surprise is how slow they ride and they avoid any higher pace on hills... so they were always ok, but deep inside...
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I'm not talking about riding
  • + 1
 @me2menow: I am told by friends who are, or were working at bike workshops that roadies are fine, it is the triathletes that disgust them. In all fairness MTB pretentiousness is growing and has been common around Garda Lake for years.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Triathletes don't think that theyre the hottest shit in charge so I dont mind too much from that aspect
  • + 44
 That was a really useful/interesting interview. Of course, the PB commentariat aren't going to like it but in the end, power follows money. And the money to be made in MTB is not the slightest bit interested in the things that the UCI are focused on and the UCI have no capacity and political will to get at that money as a result.

Honestly, though...if the UCI didn't manage the international downhill circuit...who would? Even the EWS has maxed out on their circuit and called in the UCI...

We like to think that because some of us go huge and the rest of us love to pretend we can that we are huge...but we aren't. Yet.
  • + 6
 @silentbutdeadly "PB commentariat" that is genius haha
  • + 2
 Do we really want to go big? Is bigger always better? Maybe we just want to take the ride around instead of sending it big.
  • + 2
 @kbonesddeuce: Eviscerate the commentariat!
  • + 1
 @Patsplit: But how else will we get the clicks, likes and page views that are apparently required for financial success in our sport? He asks with his tongue embedded in his cheek...
  • + 15
 Why some people want downhill in the Olympics?
The introduction of these new sports in the Olympics to "connect with the young" seems forced and goofy.
Maybe the IOC should solve the issues with their traditional sports if they feel they don't have enough spectators insted of stealing other sports's fans.
The Olympics have a strong story and identity, they should value that, because they're never gonna get the "extreme sports vibe", but only ruin their status.
Also downhill could be a strongh enough sport on his own, it doesn't need the Olympic recognition.
The kind of people who can possibly take up downhill aren't gonna start ride because they've seen it at the Olympics, between running and gymnastics...
  • + 3
 Correct, and think about it like certain bands. First couple of albums before they become hugely popular: genius. First album after their breakthrough: nauseating shite. Often things that are touched by too much money go down the dunny.
  • + 4
 let us pay attention to skateboarding in the olympics, and then use that as a springboard for discussion on DH in the olympics
  • + 4
 @BenPea: So true. Stay underground. More money in the sport is not always a good thing.
  • + 1
 It could work if it was represented in a similar way to white water events.
  • + 17
 The mere thought of BMX freestyle in the Olympics with the ”help”of the UCI brings up a little puke in my mouth.
  • + 0
 IOC just wants sports that have television appeal for ADHD generation, because it brings in the ad revenues.
  • + 0
 ADHD generation? Go f*ck your self @Jamminator:
  • + 0
 @freeridejerk888: I will be honest. Flatland BMX is as exciting to me as this ski dancing or figure skating or half of gymnastics. It is perfect for lamest audiences on Olympics. Park is a different story but I see no problem, why not? Did Snowboard suffer as a sport because of being included in the Olympics?
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I was expecting a little bit more from you. Snowboarding was actually was the first sport to take a stand against the IOC and FIS, backed up in those days by its brightest star, Terje Haakonsen. Now what did Terje do? He created the TTR circuit, which is the benchmark in snowboarding, not those FIS events.

Regarding flatland, it is not relevant for the discussion, as flatland is as low as it gets these days and kept alive by a few hardcore riders who really ride because they like it and not for the trend. The implementation of freestyle BMX in the Olympics was actually done with the aid of Mat Hoffman and this is what Mat Hoffman has to say: digbmx.com/dig-this/why-we-need-to-keep-the-uci-out-of-bmx

If his voice isn't legit, I don't know what is. Have a good one, buddy!
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I believe that snowboarding suffered yes.
  • + 9
 The reason there are so many road memberships is because most mountain bikers don’t believe in the UCI. If the UCI proved itself and actually got behind mtb in a meaningful way I’m sure that that ratio would start to even out and the UCI would get a much bigger revenue from an untapped market. I wish mtb had nothing to do with the UCI
  • + 1
 Has more to do with amateur reachdown...MTB tends to be more supported by national federations while many road events have UCI involvement.
  • + 4
 Allot of the membership must come from races licences. A good performance in road means faster or further and has much more in common with racing. A good performance in mountain biking can just be getting up or down a trail clean, or who had the most style. I doubt Roadies talk about railing corners down the pub.
  • + 7
 Soultion: hold more rounds, have each round next to the other so travel costs are reduced. I.e the traveling circus model. N.A should have at least three rounds which should be scheduled together and have at least one race a year somewhere new like South America, Asia, etc.
Reduce fee's and "extras" so more venues apply.
  • + 6
 Might as well have Trump run it - Make DH Great Again! It can be big! Huge! Get the best people. The fastest. Put them in a big room. Great things happen. Get more venues, better, bigger ones. If they're 'not big enough, we'll build bigger ones. Move some of those mountains out west to the east. Ban road riding. Trail riding only. Downhill first!
  • + 5
 it will be YUGE!
  • + 4
 When we talk about additions to the Olympic program for cycling we should be talking about Dual Slalom not Downhill. DS tracks can be built at any host location. This would be the foot in the door that gravity cycling needs to eventually get downhill included. Get DS in the games...
  • + 8
 Do you believe in bribery in an associations like FIFA UCI?
  • + 22
 FIFA, UCI, IOC all based in Switzerland. What do you think?
  • + 15
 OMG? based in Switzerland too?
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: Oh no, not more Swiss corruption lol
  • + 7
 These comments should be fun.
  • + 3
 I thought we all hated the UCI and wanted them to stay away... now we are complaining that they are not inclusive enough of mountain biking?

f it, im going to take some "dope" and go to the local djs.
  • + 2
 What are the UCI bringing to DH, and Enduro?
More rules and you need to pay for a license now?is the sport so dangerous it needs regulation? are there big teams winning world cups year on year through financial strength alone?
Half the rules they impose on cycling are to keep cycling "pure". Forced to use rim brakes, Diamond frames of specific dimension ratios? Sock length!!!

I've got not beef with this guy specifically, but F* the UCi.
  • + 2
 "Worldwide, road and MTB count for 40% and 20% of license holders, followed by BMX (10%) and others (30%)."

30%!? What's in that 30%? It can't just be artistic cycling. I don't hold a license, so I only assume that track requires a different license from road, but that still doesn't seem like enough. Does a road license cover CX or is there a separate one?
  • + 5
 Track, trails, cyclo-cross, and the indoor stuff like artistic cycling and cycle-ball.
  • + 2
 @dougfs: Agree, I would think track alone has to be 10-15%...it's massive in UK and Aus. And then of course CX is probably an equivalent amount due to its insane popularity among Dutch and Flemish.
  • - 2
 @Jamminator:

It’s not that big, certainly much smaller than mtb in the UK. British Cycling just worked out that they could dramatically increase the UK medal count by getting behind just a few athletes taking lots of medals, in a sport that is not very contested and therefore has a high return per £ spent.
  • + 1
 Does it take into account Volunteer licences?
All Officials down here for BMX have to be licenced, which although it is free can account for some large numbers.
Put that across all the disciplines and suddenly you can easily be at 10-20% just for people being regarded as a member for insurance purposes.
  • + 2
 Dear UCI, DH and Enduro is a riders sport! Stay away as much as possible. We don’t want to be over-commercialized. Would be good, if some can have a live from it. But keep it broad and open accessible... money and more tv will just increase corruption and doping. And take care in our nature when building DH-tracks.
And f*ck of olympics!
  • + 1
 Over commercialized? You've seen Sam Hill in his racing kit? We're already there...
  • + 6
 why no one goes to jail in swiss soil for money laundering?
  • + 32
 Cause its our bread and butter. But hey, the U.S congress made corruption legal so why cant we do the same?
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: because thats what we do
  • + 3
 @splsce: Everyone does it hypocrite. Are you at a theme park protesting the fast pass? Ever paid for expedited shipping? Paid for a better seat at a concert or sporting event? It's really hard to separate people's individual tendencies from government when you governed by the people.

p.s. mild sarcasm
  • + 1
 @drunknride: ohhhh sick burn
  • + 1
 Well it's not because of sexism, that's for sure. The proportion of women interested in competitive sport, or physical performance has always been significantly lower than the proportion of men; Fewer women seek out physical challenges than men- that is a fact historically and it continues to be the case today. Fewer still stick with sport long enough to achieve positions on the governance side. Parachuting women (who will on average will have less experience than their male counterparts, which has been proven time and time again in academia and the corporate world) into positions of power within any given sport will not change that, and it may do more harm than good as the predominantly male base begin to realise their influence at the table has been unjustifiably eroded, or worse, their organisation now functions sub-optimally and actively works against them in the pursuit of a goal which has highly-dubious motivations and questionable, if any real benefits.
Instead, women such as T-Mo, and Rachel Atherton (to a lesser/ more recent degree), who have built their credibility, used their influence positively and put time and effort into supporting women's development from the ground up are ideal candidates to recruit (in time!) to positions where they can influence decisions regarding the allocation of resources and development of all facets of the sport.
  • + 1
 That's when guys like McKinnon come in and just identify as a woman and take the rainbow jersey anyway. The UCI seems to think men are better at being women than women are...
  • + 2
 @Deuce-DeuceAndAHalf: "Parachuting WOMEN [...] into positions of power within any given sport [...] may do more harm than good as the predominantly MALE BASE begin to realise their influence at the table has been UNJUSTIFIABLY ERODED, or worse, their organisation now functions sub-optimally and actively WORKS AGAINST THEM them in the pursuit of a goal which has HIGHLY-DUBIOUS MOTIVATIONS and questionable, if any real benefits"

All this because there could be a woman at the top who isn't shaped in the mold of TM or RA? You're full of it man.
  • + 4
 @Deuce-DeuceAndAHalf there is some really questionable stuff in here. Some of the points you raise may be 'true' (less women seek physical challanges, less women stick with sport etc.) but you fail to question why this is. From the way your making your argument it comes across as the reason for this is because they are women. Which is of course complete nonsense.

On the 'parachuting women' comment, if you 'parachute' anyone with sub-par experience into any field they wont be as effective. The fact they are a woman has absolutely nothing to do with it. If you put me in the line up for a world cup final I'm going to do sh*t because im not a world cup rider.

And the idea that women in 'positions of power' somehow dilutes and works against men is ridiculous. Women in our sports governence is likely to in-turn increase the number of women participating in the sport which would completely invalidate the starting point in your argument.
  • + 1
 @mat-massini-media:
All good points.
There are differences between women and men which may not be noticeable at an individual level, but which become apparent as they are aggregated up to a population level. No doubt isolated instances of sexism exist, and there are historical factors to consider too, but the main driving factor is generally recognised to be the innate differences in interests between these populations. More men are interested in sport than women. Notice this does not preclude any women from being interested, only that there are likely to be more men.
2) Precisely my point. Women are no more or no less capable than men, so why give the job to either if they do not possess the best skills or experience among the available pool of candidates? I believe in competance-based selection and meritocracy. There is the real possibility that candidates will given a position they may not have earned, because of their sex. Thst is actual sexism.
Which brings me to...
3) No self-respecting person would accept such a handout. The people we need most in those roles know the value of hard work and have earned their achievements honestly (T-Mo and Rachel Atherton are the examples I gave below, but there are others). Those who accept such offers cannot be looking out for anything other than themselves and their interests. They will typically have an ideological slant which runs parallel to the thinking that sexism will solve the gender differences they see as being so problematic. It's not women that are the problem; It's anyone who think this course of action represents progress.
  • - 1
 @mi-bike: Eh no. Science dummy
  • - 1
 @mi-bike: I think wI explained it better above. We want, and we should expect a merit-based system for assigning responsibility. To do otherwise would only invite trouble as ideologically driven individuals seek to abure their power to achieve questionable goals.
  • + 1
 @Deuce-DeuceAndAHalf: Agree! In many aspects of life and society, you will find disproportionate representation of genders, races and backgrounds. There will always be a majority group. You see it in Basketball (Blacks), Golf (Whites), Ballet (Women), Engineering (Men, Indians), Nursing (Women).

The best thing to do is to let the sport grow organically and reach more corners of the globe. But you make it worse if you shoehorn a particular group at the expense of the other just because they're under represented.

What we should do is keep it open. I don't care if you're white, black, Asian, gay. If you like this sport or hobby, feel free to join and see you at the trails.
  • + 0
 @mat-massini-media: meh. Stay on track here. Dude in the suit looks like a tool.
  • + 2
 This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone say they prefer road biking during the summer and mountain biking in winter. Fail.
  • + 4
 Fort William is a city now?
  • + 3
 yeah, that was a bit of a fluff wasn't it. Roadie events are in cities and he has to recover himself by talking about these destinations looking to fill their summers. Note also the order of things. 'cross-country, but also downhill if they have ski-lifts'. [corporate 'global strategy' talk made me retch].
  • + 7
 Stop this village shaming! They identify as a Metropolis, who are you to judge?
  • + 1
 Politics in Bicycling, these governing institutions makes more money than the athletes! Hard to make a living without doping in this sport!
  • + 1
 Should have touched on the schedule...wcdh season starts for what, 2 back to back races, then goes on vacation for 2 months...
  • + 3
 Steve Peat for President!
  • + 2
 30% other cycling users worldwide. 30% unicyclist's!?
  • + 1
 Track, cyclocross.
  • + 1
 Too many comments to read all, but in case it hasn't been said yet: Tipple for UCI president!
  • + 2
 I literally fell asleep, reading this at my desk.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg That last shot (portrait) in the article is really good. Nice work.
  • + 1
 Setting the tone: "We recognize what has been done in mountain biking over recent years was NOT SO BAD"
  • + 2
 Piss off!!!
  • + 1
 So is Richie riding next year? Just read the whole article to find out.
  • + 2
 Hey look, it's Satan.
  • + 0
 UCI has always been deep in the brown completely smelly sticky stuff scattered with cashews
  • + 1
 The industry is run by kooks. #Peaty4Prez
  • + 0
 Lappartient has already shown he's all talk and no walk with road cycling, let alone MTB. Just a load of hot air.
  • + 1
 Go to hell UCI, and take your moped racing with you.
  • + 1
 So, basically no DH in the IOC. Only MTBs when he has to. Hmm.
  • + 0
 He is such a roadie whyyyyy
  • - 1
 What a turd. The people that run these sorts of organizations are just awful.
  • - 2
 #nope
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