Some thoughts on Brian Cookson’s latest blog

It’s coming to the end of the campaigning period for Brian Cookson and Pat McQuaid, as they fight for the role of UCI President.  Today, Cookson put a blog on his campaign site, with some more of his plans on how to develop women’s road cycling.  As always, I can’t link directly to the blog this comes from (Why DO sites do that?) but go to the blog page and look for the post on 13/9/2013.

I am in two minds about Cookson’s statements about women’s cycling, because on the one hand, I love that he’s supporting it so vocally, and referencing things like the Le Tour Entier manifesto for developing women’s cycling, but on the other, in all his statements on women’s cycling before he started his UCI election campaign, even the start of this year, he was saying the opposite – that things can’t change, that it’s not on tv because people aren’t interested (eg here in Cycling Weekly), women don’t deserve a minimum wage etc.

It’s hard, because what I want to see is him – and Pat McQuaid – acknowledging that they were wrong in their statements before, and explaining what’s changed their minds.  McQuaid as UCI head and Cookson as UCI Management Committee member and head of British Cycling have both had real chances to change things over the years, and they haven’t – I’d even argue that women’s cycling has been allowed to deteriorate under their watch – and they’ve had all the UCI resources at their fingertips.

To me, there’s absolutely no weakness in saying “I haven’t done as much as I could, but XYZ showed me what we could and should be doing, so I promise to do more in the future, starting with [a list of concrete actions]” – that’s the sign of a genuine, sincere person, who’s more than just electioneering.

I do give Cookson credit for talking about this on his blog, and setting out some ideas.  I’d still like to see more detail than the 1 page on women’s racing in his election manifesto – he has four actions in there, and I want to know more.

• Create a Women’s Cycling Commission
• New events and broadcast initiatives for women riders
• Appoint at least one woman on every UCI Commission
• Introduce modern employment standards for women pro riders

What new events?  What will that mean for existing events?  Didn’t the UCI already commit to one women per Commission last year?  Why’s it not been implemented yet? What time frame for these, etc?

(For many years I worked for charities and the Public Sector, developing and implementing policies, so I have a bit of a tic about wanting to see plans of action – with actions to have been taken by the end of year 1, 2 and 4 of a 4-year Presidential period.  But I don’t think this is an unreasonable thing to ask – it helps show plans, and that they’re open to being held accountable).

I think part of the issue is that neither Cookson nor McQuaid seem to want to interact and answer questions.  At least Cookson has the website, blog and twitter account – but I’ve tweeted and emailed him (assuming they’re run by his team) and no one ever replies, and I’ve lost count of how many of my twitter contacts have asked Cookson Qs on twitter, and never got replies – it’s not a tool for interaction, but announcements. BUT!!!  that’s a hell of a lot more than McQuaid does – and for all that I tear my hair out over the lack of detail in Cookson’s work, at least I can see his broad ideas – with McQuaid, it’s just the statements in the cycling media, and they have even less detail.

Bottom line: this is important to me because a support for women’s cycling that isn’t genuine, and is only election campaigning will not help the sport.  Explaining why viewpoints have changed will really help people believe the support from both Cookson and McQuaid is more than just words.


As much as I love the focus on women’s road cycling, I would also VERY MUCH like to see Cookson and McQuaid talking about the other bike disciplines, like MTB, cyclocross, BMX and to a lesser degree, track – how they plan to develop all of those, and how to develop them for Para-cyclists, women and other minority groups.

Para-cyclists have it especially hard, with no Para-cycling track World Cups or World Championships this year.  One simple solution?  Bring Para-cycling into the mainstream, so that UCI events, like the track World Cups and World Champs have to run Para-cycling events too.  How are riders expected to prepare for and qualify for the Paralympics, if they can’t compete?

More in my UCI series on the blog here:

My series of research and articles on how the UCI women’s road calendar has changed over time, with conclusions and solutions (two articles from this year and three from 2011)

My Podium Café interview with Stefan Wyman on how much it costs to run a pro women’s team, with suggestions of things the UCI could do to help women’s cycling.

An article I wrote for Cyclingnews last year – Four simple ways to develop women’s cycling

Dan’s article from last year on building new team structures


4 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Brian Cookson’s latest blog

  1. I am skeptical of any promises made during a bid for elected office. Many promises are made that never come to fruition. The voice of women’s cycling is growing louder and their support is increasing daily. Hopefully the addition of the new WCA (which I joined) will be a catalyst for change. A sponsor with deep pockets for the cause is critical as is the support of their male counterparts with clout in the pro peloton.

  2. Totally agree with your blog’s points ! Some of the Tweets sent to Cookson :

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 4h
    @cooksonforuci Seems ” HC ” means HAS CARS ! See … No emails, No tweets, begin to think correct

    Equality for TdF ‏@LeTourEntier 13 Sep
    Do you think the UCI treats women’s professional cycling with equality? Retweet if you want to see change. #TDF4Women #cycling
    Retweeted by skippy mc carthy

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 13 Sep
    @TheRaceRadio @cooksonforuci phat the rat will ruin UCI whilst he fiddles in a toga! Ask Eurosport to stop Ads whilst Vuelta finishes !

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 12 Sep
    @velociosports @KathrynBertine @LeTourEntier We ALL know phat can’t spell EQUALITY but has Cookson same problem ? PAY WOMEN ? NOT THEM YET !

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 12 Sep
    @velociosports WHO pays your costs at UCI Worlds in Firenze ? Cooks & phat expect you there at own expense making them look good 4 NOTHING ?

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 12 Sep
    @cooksonforuci @KathrynBertine @LeTourEntier Emailed U,Tweeted U! Are U a mcquaid CLONE? Last year U were No Women Pay , this year POSITIVE?

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 10 Sep
    @moran_anto AS UCI Pres you want Kristy Scrymgeour of @velociosports in your Cabinet ! Another Aussie Lady with Gusto for WOMENS’ Cycling!

    Of course you will have been too busy to read my blogs where i have made many suggestions that even a ” blind man with sa white stick ” could improve Womens’ Cycling !

    As regards my Emails about your Blog asking for answers to the questions you raised ?

    Deafening silence !

    TODAYS Tweet :

    skippy mc carthy ‏@skippydetour 2s
    @cooksonforuci @_pigeons_ Not answering Tweets & Emails causes Questions & Blogs … How CAN WE BELIEVE YOUR VIEWS?

    Will we get aNYTHING ?

    BTW , phat isn’t silent :

    Doubt this is being written by a Cookson fan !

    Catch up on my blogs via : or twitter @skippydetour , f/B Skippy Mc Carthy

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