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Roche on McQuaid and Kimmage

Barry Ryan
February 22, 2013, 08:59,
February 27, 2013, 13:41
Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 22, 2013
Former Tour and Giro winner Stephen Roche is looking to implement changes in cycling

Former Tour and Giro winner Stephen Roche is looking to implement changes in cycling

  • Former Tour and Giro winner Stephen Roche is looking to implement changes in cycling
  • Pat McQuaid has considered his options
  • Paul Kimmage

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Decries personal element in acrimony

Not since the halcyon era of the 1980s did Irish cycling enjoy a day comparable to Thursday. Shortly after the official confirmation that Belfast would host the start of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, Martyn Irvine claimed Ireland’s first gold medal at the track world championships in 117 years by winning the scratch race in Minsk, scarcely an hour after he had taken silver in the individual pursuit.

Of course, some of Irish cycling’s most notable figures have already claimed their share of column inches in the international press in recent months, albeit for quite different reasons. Pat McQuaid’s position as UCI president has been called into question in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair and no small amount of the pressure has been applied by two of his fellow countrymen, Paul Kimmage and David Walsh.

The positions of McQuaid and Kimmage are particularly entrenched. Where McQuaid defiantly defends his record as UCI president, Kimmage forms a vocal part of a lobby demanding his removal. Where McQuaid launched libel proceedings – since suspended – against Kimmage for his journalistic output, Kimmage has lodged a criminal complaint against the UCI in a Swiss court.

Stephen Roche has known both men since the 1970s – the Roche, McQuaid and Kimmage families are steeped in Dublin cycling tradition – and the former Giro and Tour de France winner believes that there is a personal element to the acrimony between McQuaid and Kimmage.

“Unfortunately, I think it’s a bit personal and it’s unfortunate that it’s been aired in the press, the laundry’s been aired in public,” Roche told Cyclingnews in Belfast. “After a while, you have to say, ‘let’s get on with things, let’s find someone else to throw stones at.’ Maybe Paul feels Pat has hurt him, while Pat feels Paul and David have hurt him.”

Darach McQuaid – the younger brother of Pat – was instrumental in bringing the Giro start to Ireland, and he asked Roche to help the bid in an ambassadorial capacity. Roche acknowledged his own long-standing relationship with the McQuaid family, but he was adamant in his support of Pat McQuaid as UCI president.

“First of all, I would say: find someone better than Pat,” Roche said. “I don’t think you can find someone out there who has more passion than Pat. Maybe there were some mistakes made. The UCI is a federation but it’s also a business and what businessman hasn’t made mistakes to help the company work better?

“Now I’m not saying that Pat has made mistakes, but maybe some of the decisions could be debated today. But at the same time, let’s not forget the good Pat has done for cycling in the past number of years since he’s been in power. You can’t throw away all the good things he’s done, like the biological passport, and just look at the bad things.”

Rough Ride

While Roche maintains cordial ties with the McQuaids, his friendship with Kimmage was ruptured following the publication of Rough Ride in 1990. Kimmage’s seminal autobiography outlined the doping culture in cycling in the 1980s and Roche admits now that it was a message ought to have been heeded far sooner.

“Looking back, you could say Paul and David have done a lot of ‘harm’ to cycling but they harmed it to make it better, if you know what I mean,” Roche said. “Initially, they were voicing a lot of negative stories about cycling, but maybe if people had looked to what they were saying years ago – myself included – then maybe this whole thing could have been a five year saga rather than a fifteen year saga.”

When Rough Ride first hit the shelves 23 years ago, however, Roche poured scorn on the book’s claims regarding doping in a column in the Irish Times, to the chagrin of Kimmage. Asked if he now regretted that reaction, Roche said: “I’ve said it on numerous occasions and I’ve said it in public: yes, my reaction to Rough Ride was as a young kid hot off the block and I didn’t really know what was going on.”

“If what has come out in the last few months hadn’t come out, I’d still have thought Paul had exaggerated a bit in his book,” Roche continued. “But now I see with what’s come out that I definitely had my head in the sand. And I regret that we didn’t give Paul more space at the time, that we didn’t listen to him and react. But I took it that this was a little guy with a chip on his shoulder who didn’t make it and was kind of relieving himself of all this crap.

“The only thing I won’t take back is that these guys got a lot out of cycling: it wasn’t all negative. I cannot comprehend someone who got so much from cycling going out and being so harsh with something that’s given him everything he has. That was my main issue with it then, and it is today even now.”

There is some divergence, too, in Roche and Kimmage’s views on cycling’s next steps in the wake of the Armstrong affair. While Kimmage is among the faction in favour of the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Roche is more circumspect on the prospect.

“The in thing today is coming out. Many guys just feel they have to go and tell the world they took stuff during their career. I think it’s a bit unfortunate. Is this system the solution? Getting everything out there and moving on? I don’t know. I don’t know what the solution is.”

Monty Dog More than 1 year ago
Roche still sticking with the Omerta - like McQuaid he is the problem in cycling that keeps us firmly anchored in the past. But he'll never let his deluded ego and self-importance get in the way of the truth.
mrsix1 More than 1 year ago
Roche said: “I’ve said it on numerous occasions and I’ve said it in public: yes, my reaction to Rough Ride was as a young kid hot off the block and I didn’t really know what was going on.” Roche was at least 30 years old when Rough Ride was published and he retired at 32
Silver Bullet More than 1 year ago
With loads of dope twixt the block and the book.
mrsix1 More than 1 year ago
Whatever about taking dope, Roche always sounds like a dope.
shapiro More than 1 year ago
Roche - "I cannot comprehend someone who got so much from cycling going out and being so harsh with something that’s given him everything he has." .... a truly pathetic statement. What a shame to hear such twaddle from a once great rider. Still shooting the messenger. The ones that have been "so harsh" on cycling and fans are the cheats and those that continue to be dishonest and hide the truth. Roche still doesn't get it ... history shows that it will all come out eventually. His legacy and credibility diminish every day while he continues to hide the obvious doping practices in his own teams in the past.
styrian_chamois More than 1 year ago
Oh boy...
Rule5CC More than 1 year ago
Stephen Roche, EPO denier
jaimiefuller More than 1 year ago
reckon Roche may have some splinters in his arse for all the fence sitting that he's doing. i find some of his statements quite strange frankly and contrary. Poeple make mistakes, sure. Pat has been president for 8 years and only now starts acknowledging that some things may not have gone as well as they could have?? he needs to man up and admit that the sport is a shambles due to all the things that Paul and David have raised for many years. i can't help but wonder if Mr Roche feels conflicted when it comes to Pat and the need for him to be replaced... i also wonder if Stephen has attempted to make peace with Paul? Based on his comments above he bloody well needs to.
rosacorsa More than 1 year ago
Don't forget that this comes from the man who wanted/wants to ban riders from unzipping their jerseys as if that's the biggest issue cycling has.
winkybiker More than 1 year ago
Wasn't that an April Fools' thing?
BobAli More than 1 year ago
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.....
NashbarShorts More than 1 year ago
"My reaction to Rough Ride was as a young kid hot off the block and I didn’t really know what was going on.” What a bullshite artist. Roche was age 30 when the book came out. He had already won the TdF, Giro, Worlds, and was a Ferrari client. I like Roche. I went to one of his cycling camps and met him personally. He's a nice guy. But what a total bullshIte artist and total fraud. Sad!!
martinvickers More than 1 year ago
One of the tragedies of the dope era is that not all the dopers are unpleasant sociopaths like Armstrong. Armstrong makes it easy to assume that all dopers are cartoon villians, because he's one. But in reality, lots of actually pretty nice, pleasant, even decent people, doped and protected the Omerta - in their world, protecting omerta was the HONOURABLE thing to do - protect your fellow riders professions, etc...that is what's so bloody hard to break, to get these guys to realise in the long term, the omerta is poisonous. Even in this article, it comes across that Roche genuinely wants to make up with Kimmage, wants to 'mend fences' - they were very close friends back in the day - but simply will not do the dirt onPat McQuaid to do so - and there is no way to be on good terms with both - hence poor Steve's stuck on the fence sounding stupid. By 80's standards, Roche's Omerta friendly, lets all get along-erism is actually pretty noble. sadly for him, by todays more correct standards its stupid and deceitful. I can't help be a little sad for these people - time and morality has passed them by.
orbeas More than 1 year ago
So Mr Roach, when your friend Mr McQuaid sets up his 'Truth and Reconsiliation' I take it that you will be the first one there admitting your past doping offences ?????? Just seen pigs flying over !!!!!!!!!!!!