Darach McQuaid has insisted that there is no conflict of interests between his role in Richmond, Virginia’s bid to host the 2015 world championships and his brother Pat’s position as president of the UCI. He also revealed that a major new United States-based stage race is in the pipeline for the 2012 season.
“As soon as I mentioned to my brother Pat that this project was a possibility, he passed me immediately to Gerrit Middag, who is the marketing and events director of the UCI and he is the only person that I have spoken to this on this project since,” McQuaid said to Cyclingnews.
Darach McQuaid’s Shadetree Sports marketing agency was contracted by the city of Richmond to organise its bid and he explained that he has longstanding ties with the area that predate his brother’s passage through the corridors of power of the UCI. He also firmly rejected claims that his family ties to the head of the sport’s governing body would have an impact on the UCI’s decision.
“My business partner is David Kalman and he’s based in Richmond,” Darach McQuaid said. “My history with Richmond goes back to 1995-1996 before my brother Pat was even on the board of the UCI, when I was based in Richmond publishing the official guide for the Tour DuPont.
“I’ve been doing business in the professional cycling world and Richmond before Pat was ever a board member, let alone president of the UCI. I think that’s important to remember. Some bloggers have said ‘oh, book your tickets for Richmond now’ just because I’m part of the bid, but that’s completely ridiculous.”
Pat McQuaid’s sons David and Andrew are also heavily involved in professional cycling. David McQuaid is race director of the Tour de Nashik and Tour de Mumbai, which take place in India on February 11 and 13, and are expected to attract a number of ProTeams. Andrew McQuaid is agent to a number of top riders, including Richie Porte, Nicolas Roche, Philip Deignan and Christophe Le Mével. His role was recently queried by the riders’ union (CPA) president Gianni Bugno.
However, Darach McQuaid has defended his family’s right to work in the sport and was adamant that the UCI act in such a way as to ensure that their roles do not pose a conflict of interests.
“That’s a UCI matter. Pat has already spoken in the media about the conflicts of interests if there are any regarding myself or regarding his sons in the sport,” Darach McQuaid said. “I can’t speak for his sons but as far as I am concerned, I have been involved at a business level around the world since the 1990s when I was publishing official guides to the Tour of China, Tour DuPont, mountain bike World Cups in Québec and mountain bike world championships.
“All of this was before Pat was even on the board [of the UCI], so for people to expect me to suddenly maybe find another career because my brother becomes president of the UCI, I don’t think that’s fair and I don’t think that’s right. The UCI has its own way of dealing with potential conflicts of interest and I’ll leave that to them. We’re focused on putting our bid together in as professional a way as possible.
The Richmond 2015 bid
One of Richmond’s rivals for the honour of hosting the 2015 world championships is Québec and the head of the Canadian bid, Serge Arsenaut, does not believe McQuaid’s involvement will necessarily improve Richmond’s chances.
“As political correctness is taking more and more importance, a president cannot allow himself to maintain the slightest hint of favouritism,” Aresenaut told Le Journal de Québec. “It might even have a boomerang effect against them.”
For his part, McQuaid was is keen to extol the virtues of Richmond’s bid, and he believes that an American Worlds are long overdue. The last time the event took place in the United States was when Moreno Argentin overpowered Charly Mottet to win in Colorado in 1986.
“The amount of US riders at the top level of the sport is so much more now than it was in 1986, and I think it’s a very important market for world cycling,” he said to Cyclingnews. “The American bike industry from 1986 to 2011 is a completely different animal, there are many, many US bicycle companies putting significant money into world cycling, which I think is an important point. The US market in terms of the sport and also in terms of the business of the sport is very important to world cycling.”
A new stage race for America?
As well as putting together the Richmond Worlds bid, McQuaid explained that his Shadetree Sports operation has a broad mission to attract sponsors to cycling. Once a company expresses an interest, Shadetree Sports then advises it on whether it would be better suited to sponsoring a race or a team.
“We meet marketers in Europe and America,” he said. “We sell cycling first and then if a brand is interested in cycling, then we look at which part of cycling it might fit.
Among Shadetree Sport’s current projects is a new United States-based stage race. While McQuaid was reluctant to discuss the full details of the route, he said that talks with potential sponsors have reached an advanced stage.
“I can say we’re in discussions with some major brands and it’s going very well. As soon as we reach a conclusion on that, we’ll speak to the US federation and the UCI about possible calendar dates,” McQuaid said. “It’s a real project. Again there’s been some bloggers or twitterers or whatever you want to call them talking about that, but that’s a real project and I’m very, very excited by the progress we’ve made in the last six months. The sport is growing in the US in a huge way and we want to promote a significant US stage race.”
McQuaid is confident that he can get the project off the ground in time to find a place on the 2012 race calendar.
“We’re confident,” he told Cyclingnews. “We’re pushing really hard, I’ll put it to you that way. We’re pushing really hard for 2012.”
Meanwhile, McQuaid expressed his disappointment that one of his company’s previous ventures, the Tour of Ireland, is no longer in existence. The race did not take place in 2010 and he said that it this was a direct consequence of Ireland’s difficult economic circumstances.
“It’s very difficult with the economic climate in Ireland,” he said. “It was very disappointing of course, but the race was in the majority sense funded by the government [major backers included the Irish tourist board Fáilte Ireland and postal service An Post].
“But the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Tours of Ireland showed that the public wanted it and reacted very well to it and the sponsors we had really believed that it was successful for them and their sponsorship. We want to recreate that and find a commercial partner that sees the value in it.”
Lance Armstrong was among the starters at the 2009 Tour of Ireland, making a very rare post-Tour de France appearance in order to participate in the event, which McQuaid’s company helped to organise.
Last week, the 2009 Tour of Ireland was the subject of a tweet from Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad), who suggested that prize money from the event had not been paid. Darach McQuaid explained that it was a matter for race director Alan Rushton.