“A wonderful day” says McQuaid

Pat McQuaid describes his election as the ninth UCI president as a "huge challenge" and "wonderful n

Pat McQuaid describes his election as the ninth UCI president as a “huge challenge” and “wonderful n

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Pat McQuaid described his election to the presidency of the International Cycling Union as “wonderful news” when he held his first press conference in his new position in Madrid Palacio de Congresos on Friday afternoon. Sitting alongside his predecessor in the post, Hein Verbruggen, McQuaid said he was keen to get on with the job of widening cycling’s appeal across the world. “This is a really wonderful day for me, especially after such a long career in cycling, starting as a rider, then passing on to organising races in Ireland, the UK and other parts of the world. I’ve been president of the UCI’s road committee for the past eight years and it is a great honour to end up as the organisation’s president,” said the Irishman. The eldest of 10 children, McQuaid described how all of the family’s seven brothers raced bikes, and added that many of his uncles, cousins and other relatives did as well. A former president of the Irish cycling federation, McQuaid was behind the Tour de France’s visit to Ireland in 1998. The cycling tradition has continued in McQuaid’s own family. One of his sons will be lining up in Saturday’s under-23 road race championship in Ireland’s colours. McQuaid alluded to his son’s presence in that race when asked how committed he would be towards the ever-present menace of doping. “If you can be more than 100 per cent committed to tackling doping then that’s what I plan to be,” he said. Referring to today’s removal of two Slovene riders from the under-23 race following blood tests carried out this morning, McQuaid said he was detemined to cooperate with the World Anti-Doping Agency and other organisations to combat doping. “I know there have been riders who have ridden very well at the under-23 level in order to get a pro contract who then get nowhere when they become pros because the testing protocols are so tight. I don’t want to see that happen. My son is racing in the under-23 race and I would like to think that he is competing on level terms medically speaking. I’ll be doing all I can to catch cheats out,” he stated. McQuaid admitted that he had a huge task ahead, and also that one of his personal tasks would be to improve his grasp of French. “I’m taking lessons,” he admitted. He deferred to Verbruggen when a journalist asked whether the UCI was planning to introduce retroactive testing. Verbruggen turned the question back on the journalist, asking him how long he would plan to store test samples for, and the subject fizzled rather unsatisfactorily out of discussion. Naturally, the question of L’Equipe’s allegations against Lance Armstrong came up, but, showing a nifty political bodyswerve, McQuaid said he had nothing to add to the debate beyond his backing for recent UCI statements on the subject. He did say, however, that International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge “had come down on Lance Armstrong’s side this morning”. McQuaid was more effusive on the subject of when the Worlds will be awarded to a country outside Europe again. “We came to a decision four years ago that the Worlds would go outside Europe about every six or seven years, so after going to Hamilton in Canada in 2003 you can expect the next ones outside Europe some time towards 2010. We have already got some interested candidates for this,” he said.