Derek Bouchard-Hall, former US pro criterium champion and executive at the online cycling retailer Wiggle, will take over as the CEO and President of USA Cycling in June, the organisation’s Board of Directors announced on Thursday. Bouchard-Hall will take the place of Steve Johnson, who will step down after a nine-year term.
“I could not be more excited to be returning to the sport I love at this time in its history,” Bouchard-Hall said. “We hope to capitalize on the very positive aspects of cycling, including the growth of women's cycling and the broadening of participation in cycling by those seeking to improve their fitness and well-being. I can’t wait to get started."
Bouchard-Hall, 45, is a former member of the US national cycling team. He was a member of successful American-based teams Shaklee from 1994-98 and Mercury Cycling Team from 1998 until he retired in 2002. His career highlights on the road include winning the US pro criterium championships in Downers Grove, and he competed in international events Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and Criterium International. He was also a member of the team pursuit squad at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Bouchard-Hall, who grew up in Massachusetts, was as devoted to his excellence in education as he was to his cycling career. He holds degrees in Structural Engineering from Stanford, Architectural Engineering from Princeton and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
He began a post-cycling career in consulting with Ernst & Young in Boston and then with McKinsey in London. At McKinsey, he focused on designing and implementing change programs across a range of commercial and governmental organizations. He joined Wiggle in 2011.
“We hired Derek based on his business background,” USA Cycling Board of Directors Chairman Bob Stapleton told Cyclingnews. “Wiggle succeed based on how they engage, retain and grow their customer base, daily and hourly. That is super relevant and mission critical for USA Cycling. Perhaps more subtle in his background is that he has really been an architect and a leader for change.
“He was a consultant at McKinsey and got a lot of credit from the small business administration, revitalizing their HUBZone Program… he engineered a sweeping set of changes there that revitalized the business. That kind of thoughtful ability to implement change is also relevant for USA Cycling and ultimately for the sport.
“For us, his business background set him apart and he has this unique, personal athletic background, which was a plus.”
Stapleton believes that Bouchard-Hall’s business background will be key to bringing in additional resources to USA Cycling, to help build the organisation in the future.
“Our primary goal is to deeply engage with our members and stakeholders around the sport,” Stapleton said. “We have to get more resources into the business so that we can become more relevant and compelling. Not just for racing cyclists but the large groups that are interested in cycling as a healthy lifestyle, for their own personal well-being, which is a remarkable opportunity for the organisation.
“With Derek’s insight into the sport and his external experience, he is uniquely positioned, particularly as a fresh face, as someone who can address some of the key issues of the sport and help work effectively with our stakeholders to implement practical change. He is a fresh insightful voice in an organisation and sport that really needs it.”
Bouchard-Hall will relocate from London to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where USA Cycling is headquartered, later this year.
USA Cycling announced in February that Johnson would step down as CEO following the upcoming UCI Road World Championships this September in Richmond, Virginia. Johnson joined USA Cycling in 1999 as a high performance consultant. He then served as Chief Operating Officer of USA Cycling and as executive director of the USA Cycling Development Foundation before being promoted to CEO in 2006.
His role has been criticized as a conflict of interest because his former boss on the Foundation,Thomas Weisel, was also the owner of the US Postal Service team of Lance Armstrong, and Weisel was named as a defendant in the False Claims Act or "whistleblower" lawsuit initiated by Floyd Landis. However, USA Cycling previously stated that Weisel's presence on the Foundation had nothing to do with the organisation's anti-doping policies.
Other points of contention included USA Cycling siding with the UCI over the jurisdiction of the Armstrong investigation, and high-profile athlete Dave Zabriskie said he had informed Johnson of widespread doping within the US Postal Service team but no actions were taken, as published in Cycle of Lies by New York Times’ Juliet Macur. Johnson previously stated that such a conversation with Zabriskie never took place.
Stapleton sees Bouchard-Hall's new role as a positive change for USA Cycling, but also noted that Johnson’s knowledge of the sport is critical in helping the transition process and so he will remain on board until the end of the year.
“We have an ideal set of circumstances,” Stapleton said. “What I hope to happen is Derek will start in the summer, mid- to late-June. I imagine that he will take the title and role immediately but he will have the access to Steve’s encyclopedic knowledge of the sport through the summer.
“I believe Steve will support Derek and the organization likely through the end of the year. Derek can focus on key issues and have a little bit of a break-out strategy for USA Cycling, while he has access to Steve and all the important information you need to work effectively across our different stake holder basis.”
Stapleton expressed his personal feeling about Bouchard-Hall’s new position at the helm of USA Cycling and the equipped Board of Directors at his disposal, along with his thoughts on the future of cycling in the US.
“Derek coming on board, personally is revitalizing my own enthusiasm,” Stapleton said. “I think of the progressive changes we can make here in the US, in our own backyard. I think he has a good, strong, motivated board that has great athlete representation, an outstanding group of independent directors, and I think we have a good, well-functioning board that Derek will fully activate.
“We chose the right leader at the right time and that is something to be excited about.”