Bouchard-Hall stepping down as USA Cycling CEO

USA Cycling announced today that Derek Bouchard-Hall will step down as president and CEO of the federation at the end of this year after just over three years on the job.

Bouchard-Hall, a former professional racer, took over from longtime USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson in June of 2015. USA Cycling Board of Directors Chairman Bob Stapleton will serve as interim CEO until the federation finds  a replacement for Bouchard-Hall, who "will lead a USA Cycling partner company that will issue a separate announcement next week," according to today's announcement from USA Cycling.

“Deciding to leave USA Cycling to take on a new role was the hardest professional decision of my life," Bouchard-Hall said in a statement released with today's announcement. "I have loved serving the American bike racing community, and my heart will always remain firmly with USA Cycling. My professional career has focused on improving organizations and setting them on a new path. I am confident that I have done that at USA Cycling, and I am proud of the team we have in place which will continue improving our ability to support our membership.

“I would like to thank the Board of USA Cycling for their partnership and support of our work the last few years," Bouchard-Hall said. "In particular, I thank Chairman Bob Stapleton and Vice Chairman Alex Nieroth for their mentorship, guidance and friendship.”

Bouchard-Hall was brought in as a reformer of sorts after Johnson was accused by at least one cyclist of having knowledge of doping in the US professional peloton in the Lance Armstrong and US Postal era but not acting on that knowledge. Johnson denied the accusations. 

Bouchard-Hall is a former member of the US national cycling team and is ardently anti-doping. 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 competing 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, 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. He joined Wiggle in 2011 and then moved over to USA Cycling in 2015.

During Bouchard-Hall's tenure, USA Cycling focused on better delivering on its mission to develop the sport of cycling at all levels, expanding membership products and services, and broadening the scope of the organization to incorporate enthusiasts and mass participation events.

“The foundation for a brighter future for USA Cycling has been built, but we know that much work needs to be done,” said Stapleton, an entrepreneur and general manager with 25 years of experience in building high-performance organizations. "The next leader of USA Cycling must have that same sense of purpose and urgency to continue our progress. This will be a fantastic opportunity for the right person.”

Stapleton, who formerly owned and managed the HTC-Highroad team, has been heavily involved in the cycling industry since 2002 and currently serves on the UCI Management Committee. He was elected as chairman of the USA Cycling Board of Directors in June of 2014, and Johnson announced his resignation six months later.

Stapleton told Cyclingnews on Friday that the federation hopes to have a new president and CEO in place by next summer, but the top priority is to find the right person.

"We're well covered on our transition here," Stapleton said. "Derek is going to be with us through the end of the year, and we've done this before at USA Cycling just four years ago. We're tightly engaged in the business and I'll act as interim CEO, so I feel like we're not in a rush. It's something we want to do right. Ideally we'll have somebody on board by next summer, but we're going to take our time and do it right."

Stapleton said Bouchard-Hall will be leaving USA Cycling in good shape for the next person to come in and take over.

"Fundamentally, USA Cycling has got the strongest management team in every function than it has ever had," Stapleton said. "I can say that with complete confidence, having been engaged with this group in different ways since 2002. We've got Chuck Hodge doing a great job running our American racing operations. He's deeply respected in the community. We've moved to a good high-performance model that's already producing results internationally led by Scott Schnitzspahn and backed up by people like Kristin Armstrong.

"In racing we're solid and we're solid in athletics, and we're going to see success in Tokyo. Really every aspect of the business is in a much better place than it was four years ago. It's great foundation for someone to come in and really push USA Cycling even further forward."

The domestic professional racing scene in the US took several blows this year as longtime teams Jelly Belly-Maxxis and UnitedHealthcare folded at the end of the season when their sponsors did not renew. Holowesko-Citadel had to pull back from the Pro Continental level for the same reason.

Combined with the loss of several high-profile races like the Cascade Cycling Classic over the past several years, and the elite-level racing in the States does not appear to be in the best of health. Despite this, Stapleton said there are some positive developments that counterbalance the bad news.

"Personally, that's always a concern for me," Stapleton said. "What's different is I don't think primary demand - people who are out riding bikes - has fundamentally changed, but it's what they're doing. What events are they participating in, and what actual activity are they doing. 

"There's definitely been a decline in traditional categories racing. There's growth in other formats. Off-road is drawing at some extent to the detriment of road. We've got to adapt to these changes in demand and areas where we see declining activity, like in road. We've got to be very aggressive in keeping the customers we've got. But we do see parts of growth in the sport that are interesting and available to us."

In regard to teams, Stapleton said the UCI's emphasis on the international events can eventually help US teams thrive.

"I think there's a good opportunity to bring some one-day races to the US that will be part of a broader series that will have attractive media attributes," he said. "I think that will spark interest in the sport, and that's a 2020 event. It's not five years from now. It's two years from now. So there are some good things on the horizon structurally.

"There's a lot to work with here," Stapleton said. "The business is stable. We're financially strong. We've got good leaders across the board. We're performing athletically. There's a lot to build from here." 

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