Pete Townsend takes on Pat McQuaid

It isn’t FIFA. But lately the UCI has sure been acting like it. In recent times accusations of cover ups, nepotism, political expediency and general ineptitude have been flying around faster than Mark Cavendish’s chain ring. Which brings us to a bearded British chap called Brian Cookson who looks more than a bit like The Who guitarist and songwriter, Pete Townsend.

Pete Townsend. Or is it Brian Cookson?

Like me you may be wondering who is this Cookson guy?

Well, for the record he’s been the President of British Cycling since 1997 – meaning he’s been at the helm for pretty much all of the golden age of British pedal-pushing. Whilst he’s never been a professional cyclist like the UCI’s incumbent Grand Poobah, Pat McQuaid (who was Irish National Road Champion in 1974), Cookson has ridden l’Etape du Tour and is a fully qualified UCI Commissaire, having officiated at Pro and Olympic level, including the 1992 Barcelona Games.

The sad thing is, of course, is it almost doesn’t matter who Cookson is. For the tubulars of McQuaid’s presidency appear to be so close to rolling off their rims, many believe change is essential – regardless of what that change actually is. (In this way, world cycling is mirroring Australian politics right now, just with Lycra replacing the budgie smugglers.)

Brian Cookson. Or is it Pete Townsend?

After a tumultuous six years in charge of the Union Cycliste Internationale that’s delivered more ups and downs than the recently-completed Criterium du Dauphine, the speeding peloton of change is breathing firmly down Pat McQuaid’s Irish neck. Will he manage to stay ahead of the chasing bunch and survive the vote later this year in Tuscany? Possibly. Should we expect things to get nasty before then? Virtually guaranteed. Will the future be any brighter for world cycling? Ask me in a year’s time.

Pat McQuaid. Yep, that’s definitely him.

Did you know?
Pat McQuaid was banned from riding for Ireland at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal after being caught racing in South Africa, in contravention of the anti-apartheid sporting boycott. He had entered the race using a false name, but was identified after being photographed.

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