By Shane Stokes
Former world number one Sean Kelly has had many dealings with new UCI president Pat McQuaid in the past. The two rode on the same Irish teams as amateurs and then, in later years, Kelly was the star attraction of the McQuaid-promoted Nissan Classic in Ireland, winning several editions. Cyclingnews asked him at Sunday’s Elite road race championships if he thought that McQuaid would continue in the same vein as his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, or if he would be a different-style president.
"I have only talked to Pat briefly so far because he is so busy here, but for me he has to run it a bit differently," said Kelly, who was working at the World's as a Eurosport commentator. "He has to bring in some of his own ideas and his experience. He has a lot of that, of course, coming from cycling background, racing as professional and then organising many races. He has a vast experience and he has been working also within the UCI a long time, so he has seen what is needed. I reckon he has a lot of ideas which he will try to enforce himself."
Kelly stated that there are priorities that need to be tackled. "There are of course a lot of things which need to be changed - the ProTour needs a number of modifications, for example. It is just one year old at the moment, not even one year, so there is a couple of changes that need to be made. Some of the things that need to be looked at issues regarding what teams that are in and others that should be in, and also the tensions with the Grand Tour organisers. There is a lot of hard work ahead for Pat, a lot of things to be looked at in the future."
As a former race promoter, McQuaid has perhaps an advantage over Verbruggen in solving the difficulties between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers over the ProTour. Kelly says that this experience, and also the fact that he is new to the job, both play in his favour.
"I think that he is more neutral, he went on that basis and is starting with a fresh slate. The other candidates that were going forward were not - take Gregorio Moreno, for example. He is more on the Grand Tour side. I think that Pat is more of a middle of the road president; he will have to work with the three big Tours, of course, so we hope he can sort something out. That is something that must be done."
Kelly said that compromises must be made on both sides. "The thing is, the big Tours think they are up there on cloud nine and they have their own ideas. They have to back off a bit. A bit of leeway from both sides is needed."